Keith Lee, CEO of location-based game service Booyah (pictured) said that manual check-ins to location-based services could be on their way out, to be replaced by automated check-ins. His comments came on a panel at VentureBeat’s MobileBeat conference today.

While checkins may provide an interesting way to announce a user’s location, location-based applications and services could be more useful if checkins are performed automatically and users are offered interesting services such as discount coupons based on their vicinity and interest (a concept called geo fencing). Auto checkins can also become useful if, for example, I specify Starbucks as one of my favorite spots and am automatically checked in whenever I am there — thus making it easier for the company to offer discounts based on number of checkins.

With recent momentum (and hype) behind-location based services, iPhone’s recent ability to let third-party apps collect information in the background, and Facebook’s expected entry into the space, we will increasingly see more useful applications. It will be interesting to see how Booyah, as well as leading location-based services Foursquare, Loopt, and GoWalla, respond to the new opportunities and challenges.

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