Google launched a mystery product at the end of 2011 called Schemer. The launch consisted of a website and a vague video with weird fake mustaches. The description doesn't offer much insight:
"Whether it's exploring a new city, checking out a friend's movie recommendations, or just finding new activities for your weekends, Schemer lets you discover new things to do, share schemes with friends, and make the most of your day. We're a scrappy team of Google engineers who wanted to help people do fun stuff in the real world. So we went ahead and built Schemer! We hope you like it."
Schemer.com is a social to do and tip list. Right now it's still in a limited beta, so you need to know someone with an account or pay attention to social media sites (the Google+ Schemer +Page might be a good start.) Don't pull a muscle trying to get an invite. The service is still pretty sparse at this point, and should it survive further development, it's bound to be a much better product.
What's a "Scheme?"
Schemer centers around this "scheme" concept. It's like tips on Foursquare. These are just ideas for things to do. Most of them don't have specific dates, and some of them are downright silly suggestions. They're all fairly short, and they may include links to websites or videos.
Location certainly plays a role in Schemer, since finding things to do will often depend on where you are. However, it's not a simple check-in service. In fact, you can't check-in at all at this point, and uses must include location-specific tags themselves when appropriate.
Lists of Schemes
You can either say you want to do a scheme or that you have done a scheme. You can also add comments and replies to a mini discussion centered around a given scheme. If you say you want to do something, that scheme will be added to your list, and you can check them off once you've completed them. You can make your schemes public or private, and you can follow other schemers to see what they have in their public lists.
Schemer has a half dozen or so "partner" brands, like Zagat and Rolling Stone. (Full disclosure: I contribute to one of the partner brands, GeekMom.) These partners can also suggest schemes, which means they're essentially linking back to their own content.
The relationships in Schemer are handled through Google+, so the people you've circled will be the people you follow in Schemer. Schemer also handles "inspiration" to show who was influenced by your schemes and who influenced you in turn.
Reading the Tea Leaves
It's impossible to say what will come of Schemer, but my guess is that it is headed toward eventually being absorbed by Google+. Partners may also turn into sponsors who offer coupons or deals instead of just suggestions and links. Google will also have to figure out some sort of reputation tool to prevent schemers from being spammers.
Overall, Schemer isn't a tool ready for prime time, but that's ok. It's a quirky and fun tool that has time to grow into a feature or app. Google hasn't over hyped Schemer. Perhaps they learned the lesson of Google Wave, which earned a standing ovation during a developer conference when it was hyped as the next big thing in email, IM, and document collaboration. If Wave had been given time to grow slowly, it might really have persuaded us all to give up our email and IM accounts, but instead it just disappointed everyone's unrealistic expectations. Schemer is still a mystery to most people, and it seems they like it that way.