If you’re an active Foursquare addict, we’ll assume your comfortable with letting the world know where you are – the smartphone app is built around ‘checking in’ to locations and earning rewards for telling people you’re there. What about where everyone else is, though? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an easy way of accessing all that data Foursquare knows about your friends movements? A bit creepy, yes, but surely useful?
Since it launched in 2009 Foursquare has been the go-to app for location-based gamification, with badges and points to prove just who was the most well-travelled in your friendship circle. In the years since it launched the service has evolved into so much more than just a way to check-in and score some points in your quest to be the mayor of the local coffee shop.
Foursquare’s true power lies in the art of discovery, which makes the app one of the best ways to explore any city simply by searching for something like ‘Chinese food’ and then navigating through a series of matching results with user reviews and tips to help sway your choice. To this end Foursquare has cleaved check-ins from the main application and launched Swarm, a new app built around the check-in feature with some added extras that may prove to be more popular in time than its progenitor ever was.
Instead of actively checking in to provide your location, Swarm’s new ‘Neighbourhood sharing’ feature can monitor where you are and share your general location with your circle of friends. It’s a subtle difference in how your location is shared but removes the last bit of friction from the user experience by eliminating the need to take your phone out wherever you go to check into a venue. Neighbourhood sharing will also ensure that your timeline of friend’s activity is also always up to date, bringing more accurate notifications of friends who are nearby. Neighbourhood sharing is completely optional and is activated, or de-activated, by swiping right on your portrait.
Another new feature is the ability to make ‘Plans’ a chat like messaging feature that begins with you broadcasting your desire to do something with your friends and waiting for them to get back to you to see who wants to join in. Your friends can either reply with a full message to ask for more details or just simply hit the ‘I’m interested’ button to signal their intent to join you on your escapades. It does, unfortunately, rely on the fact that all of your friends are using the Swarm app as well and will be able to partake in the planning phase of a gathering but the concept is a solid one that may one day reduce the amount of WhatsApp groups you get added to for spur of the moment group dinner requests.