When I heard about the concept of foursquare several months before I purchased my first smartphone, I knew that this mobile app was right up my alley. I was already a twitterholic and tweeting my activities and whereabouts on the go, so how cool would it be if there were an app that could document this for me? Furthermore, there's a little competitive spirit in foursquare in that you can become "mayor" of the places that you visit the most, and you have the ability to add friends and see all the cool spots that they've been to. You can even have foursquare update directly to your Facebook and/or twitter account.
A little competitive spirit + friends + social media integration = win/fun! The Addicting Factor Needless to say, foursquare was one of the first apps that I downloaded when I bought my iPhone 3GS last month, and let me tell you, I got addicted. FAST. Checking in is near effortless so it's not time-consuming at all to participate. I'm already super addicted and active on enough social media type outlets as it is, what with flickr, Yelp, Facebook, twitter, ...Lunch (;P), etc, so I wasn't sure if I needed another one to get addicted to. With it's simplicity, though, foursquare has managed to fit into my life just right.
Within my first week on foursquare, I managed to squeeze myself into the top 10 on the San Francisco weekly leaderboard out of the thousands of people who play foursquare in SF (should I be proud of this?). However, with all the press that foursquare has been garnering lately, they gained many more members who are, apparently, always-on-the-go party animals. I don't think that I'm even in the top 100 anymore. It's a highly volatile ranking system where one day, I might be ranked in the hundreds, but after a night of barhopping, I might end up in the top 50 again. Not that I check the graph too often, but it's always fun to see how much it fluctuates each time I do. This "leaderboard" gets reset every week. Check-in In a city where foursquare has really taken off, you can be check-in-happy just about anywhere since many establishments have already been added to their database. For instance, I was at SFO a couple of weeks ago, and had it been up to me to manually add places to check in, I would've just plain checked into SFO. I was stunned and amused when I pulled up foursquare to see that I could pretty much check into... anything. There was the long term parking lot, short term parking lot, different terminals, kiosks, Sephora SFO, Starbucks SFO, Peets SFO, different airlines, specific planes and even different spots in the sky (a lot of airlines have wifi nowadays!). How ridiculous is that? Um, check in heaven/abuse! A Few Other Features Besides the check in and the ranking system, foursquare has several other neat features. One of its main feature is being able to "unlock" badges. I've unlocked nine so far! I can access maps and visit the Yelp page of the business straight from the foursquare app. I can earn administrative privileges like the ability to edit addresses and merge duplicate entries by being a "Superuser!", which there are several levels of. I can also see where my friends are checked in, and I can see who else is checked into an establishment that I'm checked into. I've had a couple impromptu hangouts with friends who I've noticed, or who have noticed me, check into a place nearby.
The latter might bring up concerns about stalkers. I say just use your own judgement and be careful about who you add to your friends list, and by not adding your own address or someone else's home address to the database, etc. You can also choose not to update certain checkins to Facebook and twitter, or can always check in "off the grid" to hide your location. When used with a bit of caution, it's a pretty fun and harmless app.
They Could Use Some Improvement I give the concept of foursquare +5, but with several of the glitches, I'm going to have to kick it down to a +4 while they work out all of their kinks. One problem that I have with foursquare is that since they're so new, many establishments are not in their database yet, so they have to be manually added. Sometimes, if there are multiple businesses with the same name, I might get checked into the wrong city. For instance, if I'm at a Starbucks in Berkeley and I type in "Starbucks", they might check me into one of the Starbucks in San Francisco instead. There are several other similar bugs, but that's the gist of it.
There are a few features that I wish they had. There method of adding places to their database could be simplified. I've seen other lesser known location-based sites who have better ways of handling this. The main feature that I'd like, though, is the ability to filter the activity that shows up in the feed like the way I can on Facebook. Sometimes, I only want to see the activity of the people who I actually hang out with once in a while, so it'd be great if I could group friends. It would also be great if I could only show my updates to a certain group within my friends list. The Future It might have a few glitches, but foursquare obviously has major potential. To say that foursquare is going to be huge would be an understatement; it only launched a few months ago, yet already boasts tens of thousands of active members. The company seems to have a fun culture, and the fun factor of the product itself, coupled with its ease of use, plus decent mobile apps make it all the more enticing to join in. It's already blowing up in major cities in the U.S., and quickly expanding to dozens of others. It has even gone international. And what really cements foursquare in social media history? Pete Cashmore declaring that it's going to be next year's twitter just the other week and several other well-known social media folks embracing it.
Unless a better location based app pops up, foursquare is going to be around for a while. There were a few companies before foursquare with similar concepts, but none have been as successful. There are also existing successful social media sites that want to implement geolocation based features just to keep up (including Facebook), but foursquare seems to have a pretty loyal fanbase already.
Foursquare is only going to get more awesome, and will likely have the same impact on social media as twitter, based on concept and execution alone. It also doesn't hurt that it has the financial backing of several social media big wigs, including the founders of twitter, Digg and delicio.us. They also very recently released their API, which I'm scared, yet excited about. And unlike many other social media startups out there, I can actually see how foursquare could be monetized. You Should Give foursquare a Go... If you dig twitter, status updates (they're everywhere!) and aren't paranoid. Otherwise, this could come off as tedious, pointless and an invasion of one's privacy. To social media addicts like myself, however, it's pretty awesome! They have iPhone and Android apps and are working on Blackberry and Palm Pre ones. I've never tried, but apparently, foursquare can be played through SMS, too. It's fun documenting all the places that you've gone to, so join up, and you can see where all foursquare friends have been, too!
When I'm not Lunching, I'm a jeweler, and an all around, self-proclaimed web geek. My passions include social media, the interweb, technology, writing, yoga, fitness, photography, jewelry, fashion, … more
Consider the Source
Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.
Foursquare is a location-based social networking website, software for mobile devices, and game. Users "Check-in" at venues using text messaging or a device specific application. They are then awarded points and sometimes "badges." The service was created by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai; Crowley had previously founded the similar project Dodgeball which Google bought and shelved in 2009.
Foursquare allows registered users to connect with friends and update their location. Points are awarded on weekends and non-business hours for "checking in" at venues. Users can choose to have their Twitter accounts updated when they check in. In version 1.3 of their iPhone application, Foursquare enabled push-notification of friend updates, which they call "Pings." Users can earn badges by checking in at locations with certain tags or for check-in frequency. The company has stated that users will be able to add their own custom badges to the site in the future. If a user has checked-in to a venue more than anyone else, on separate days, and they have a profile photo, they will be crowned "Mayor" of that venue, until someone else earns the title. Users can create a "To Do" list for their private use and add "Tips" to venues that other users can read.
Foursquare is now available worldwide.
Foursquare currently has iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry applications and is working on an application for the Palm ...