Review: Rego, the New Place for All Your Places

There are two types of people:

  • Those who like lists.
  • Those who don’t.

I like lists. I like lists of lists. I sigh a sigh of relief when my thoughts, plans, ideas, to-do items, and everything else is filed away and in some sort of order.

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

My inclination towards putting things in lists combined with my affinity for well-designed iPhone apps is why I enjoyed Gowalla (R.I.P.) so much until it shut down a few years ago. Gowalla was such a fun and well-deigned app, and I loved using it as a way to catalog my journey of places I’d been.

Though Gowalla was a social network, I wasn’t really into it for the social aspect. I liked Gowalla because I could create trips (a list of recommended places), and I could log the places I’d been (a list of past visits).

In fact, the social aspect of Gowalla was more of a turn off than a feature. Gowalla’s built-in social network meant I had to strongly police who my followers were or else censor the places I checked in to. I chose the former which meant every time I opened the app I saw the list of unanswered friend requests and felt I was being a jerk by ignoring them.

The same is true for Path, and it’s why I never used it as often as I’d have liked. I just didn’t want the burden of managing the social aspect of the app in order to get at the journalling and logging aspect.

I’m already active on Twitter and App.net and don’t want yet another social network.

My standoffishness towards new social networks (especially ones that encourage me to broadcast when I am and am not at my own home) is one reason I love the journaling app Day One. Day One has some parallels to a “private” social network. Meaning, I can post a status update or a whole journal entry, and they can include images or be nothing but an image. And the location, date, and even current weather are all automatically added to my entry.

Day One takes many of the journalling and logging elements found in Path, Gowalla, Facebook, and the like, but Day One has no social network. And that’s one of the many attractive things about it.

Enter Rego

Rego is a brand new, location-based app that fills the void left by Gowalla — and Rego is not a new social network.

Rego

The basic premise of Rego is as a personal travel log and list. Like Gowalla, you can add a place based on your current location. But, unlike Gowalla, you can also add places you are not at, or have never even been to (more on that later).

Rego has many of the cool things found in a location-based social network app, but without rewards, badges, pins, or mayors. Rego has no rules, no goals, and no friend requests. It’s just a personal list of all your places. And this is something I find quite refreshing.

Selectively Social

Liz Danzico:

The divide between the connected and unconnected continues to demonstrate an economic discord: those living comfortably are also living un-connectedly. Unubiquitious computing demands have inspired developers to rush to build unconnected communities. The new connected is to be disconnected. Deadspots are the new hotspots.

What I like about Rego versus Gowalla, Path, Foursquare, and others, is that Rego is selectively social. It’s not a social network, but I can share any of my places if I want.

If I want to share my favorite coffee shop or the trailhead to a cool 4×4 trail, then I can. Any place I have in Rego I can choose to share.

Rego does this by creating a unique URL of my shared place that includes the name and location, and, if I want, any of the images or notes that I’ve added to that place.

Sharing a place in Rego

For example, here’s a link to Quay Coffee, a place I have in my Rego. If you click that link, you’ll see the location of Quay as well as a picture I took earlier this week and a note I added to that image.

I can share the Quay link any way I would share any other link — I can email it, text message it, tweet it, etc. — but since Rego is not a social network, I don’t have to manage incoming follower requests deciding who I want to allow to see all the places I bookmark. I choose what places I want to share, and even who I share them with.

That’s what I mean by Rego being selectively social — there are dozens of other places I have in Rego that are known only to me.

Adding Places

Adding a place in Rego is a snap. As well it should be, considering it’s the chief function of the app.

You launch the app, and the map finds your location. You then tap the “plus” icon in the upper right corner, enter the name of the place you’re adding, and hit Save.

Once you’ve added a new place, you can then close Rego and return to doing whatever you were doing earlier. Or you can add more information to your place such as images and notes, or add it to a collection (even multiple collections).

In my review of Gowalla a few years ago, I listed out a few of the things I loved most (such as building trips) as well as things I most wished were a part of the app (such as adding a location without physically being in that spot). Rego has answers for both of these things.

Because Rego lets you put places into multiple collections I can easily build trips and lists. And since Rego lets you add a location even if you’re not physically standing there with your iPhone in hand, I can add places I want to visit, in addition to adding places I’ve been to but not since I installed Rego.

To add a place you aren’t currently at you simply move the map around until the cross hairs are where you want them to be. Then you tap the “plus” button to add the place and a red pin will drop right where the crosshairs were pointed.

Unfortunately there is no ability to search for a place. Which means: (a) there is no auto-suggest for the location you’re currently at; and (b) when adding a place that is somewhere other than your current location, you kinda have to eyeball it with the crosshairs and the map (I’m told that the 1.1 update of Rego will use Foursquare’s search API to help you find and add locations easier).

Collections

As I mentioned above, once you’ve added a place, it consists of three things: (1) the location, (2) any photos and text notes you want to add to your place, and (3) a collection.

Collections are just lists. A place can be added to multiple collections. So my favorite coffee shop can be placed in my “Coffee Joints” collection, as well as my “Faves” collection, and even my “Colorado Summer Vacation” collection if I want.

Earlier this week I spent the afternoon and drove around to each of my favorite coffee shops in Kansas City. These coffee shops are all in a collection within my Rego app called “Coffee Joints”:

I’ve also started building a collection of my favorite hole-in-the-wall BBQ spots in Kansas City.1

It would be great to be able to share an entire collection if I wanted to. Have an acquaintance passing through and they want to know where to get the best Americano and the best pulled pork sandwich? Here, check out these two lists. You can’t go wrong at any of these joints.2 And since I can also chose to share any notes I’ve taken of a place, I can include recommendations for what to order.3

All this while having the freedom to keep my other places (such as my home, my in-law’s home, a vacation rental, and a favorite camping spot) completely to myself.

If you’ve clicked on one of the above coffee shop links, you’ll have noticed that when someone views a shared location they can see all the info I’ve chosen to share about that location (I can just share the pin drop if I want to — I don’t have to share any of my images or notes related to that location).

When viewing a shared location, if you have Rego installed on your iPhone, you can import the location and notes to your own list of places. If you’re viewing the place on an iPad or Mac that won’t have Rego installed, or if you’re on your iPhone and just don’t want to import the location, a link appears over top of the map to open the location in Google maps.

Planning a Trip

Since you can add locations you’re not physically at, you can use Rego to plan a trip — dropping pins at all the places you want to visit, and even adding notes about that place.

Unfortunately, since Rego does not yet have the ability to search for a place, you’ll have to eyeball it when adding places. If you’ve got a lot of trails, restaurants, and other landmarks you want to visit next time you’re, say, in the Rocky Mountains, you may find building out an entire week’s worth of excursions takes a bit of time.

I’ve built a collection for my Summer vacation to the Rocky Mountains, which includes a few restaurants we want to visit and some 4×4 trails we want to hit. I can then use Rego to instantly pull up the places we want to visit and get directions.

To get directions to a place, tap the standard iOS “Share” icon in the top right corner. Then select “Open In…” and Rego will give you the option to open the location in Apple Maps, as well as Google Maps and/or the TomTom app if you have those installed. Then, you can use your way-finding app of choice to get directions to your place.

Also worth noting, is that you can reorient the map by tapping and holding. When you do this a purple pin will drop and then all the locations in Rego will be sorted by distance from the purple pin rather than from your current location. This can be helpful for, say, getting an idea of the proximity all your planned excursions are from where you’ll be staying.

Data Export

Alas, currently there is no way to get your data out of Rego. Though all your info is stored locally on your iPhone, if you ever decide to stop using Rego there’s no way to get your data out. I’m told that export is a feature they are working on and will be added to a future release.

Conclusion

Rego is available now as a free download, and allows you to add up to 10 places. To add more places than that, there is a $2.99 in-app purchase (which is currently on a launch-price sale of $0.99). This is Rego’s way of offering a “try before you buy” version.

While I do see some overlap between how one might use both Rego and Day One — because both allow you to log “Moments” with images, notes, and your location — I see both as being useful.

For me, Rego is the place where I log my favorite spots, recommended spots, and spots I want to visit. And sure, an image or two can be added to give some flair to the saved location entry, but for recording memories, I’ll continue to use Day One.

All in all, Rego 1.0 is a fantastic app with some great features and functionality. The lack of social features mean it’s not one more app you have to “manage” and “check in” on. It’s an app you use if and when you want — it doesn’t bug you to use it all the time. This is precisely what I like so much about it.


  1. Which will include Okie Joe’s, L.C.’s, Arthur Bryant’s, and (for those who need a place with a nice atmosphere) Jack Stack.
  2. Of course, a situation like the above is exactly where an app like Foursquare would shine. The social aspect of the app makes it easy to aggregate the “most popular” locations. But I’ve never had trouble getting a recommendation by asking for one on Twitter or looking on Yelp.
  3. At Broadway, get espresso. At Quay (pronounce it “key”), get a pour over. At Okie Joe’s, get the Z-Man. At L.C.’s, get ribs, order in a hurry, and pay with cash.
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