Back in 2009, Foursquare launched a novel “check in” app that jumpstarted the way people interacted online and in their local neighborhood. After tens of millions of users, data points, and dollars, Foursquare was struggling to find a way for people around the world to keep using their app. Back in 2009, Foursquare had the upper hand because phones back then didn’t have the capability to tell you what was around you. Now, in just a few short years, however, that technology has quickly been adopted by many, including online sites like Facebook and Yelp.
That’s when Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley decided it was time to do something out-of-the-box to compete. The company has decided to split the local sharing service into two parts.
In May, Foursquare announced a brand new app called Swarm that will exist in conjunction with the original Foursquare app. Swarm is a social heat map that helps users find friends in nearby locations and allows them to check in and share their location. In the next few weeks, users should expect a brand new look to the Foursquare app that will be focused on traveling and discovery instead.
How Does Swarm Work?
Swarm lets you check in to show friends where they are using passive location signals. With the understanding that users don’t necessarily want to share their exact location, this app will show the location of you and your friends without requiring a check in. If you want to hide the location, you can swipe the app’s top bar to go off the grid. Foursquare hopes it will make sharing your location seem less creepy if you have a choice.
A new and noteworthy concept found on Swarm is that it will allow you to suggest plans to your Swarm friends, a friends list that is separate from your Foursquare friends. The app allows you to ask the questions, “Pizza at Luigi’s at 1PM today?” and lets you text the people who say they’re interested.
Swarm will let you search your entire history of check-ins to see how far you’ve come, a feature that hasn’t been allowed, but often requested by users. Check-ins are still possible on the Swarm app, but not a focus anymore.
With Swarm’s new clean layout, the app encourages you to make a status update with each check-in and include a small sticker to convey your mood.
With Swarm, the focus will be sharing your location to make plans with your friends and much less focus on earning check-in points, mayorships, badges, and so on. The well-made app will thrive if it can transfer Foursquare’s user base over. Foursquare will be moving on to be focused more on discovery and recommendations to compete with local search sites. Together with both Swarm and Foursquare, the company can focus on staying what they’ve always been: a place to help you meet up with friends, but still competing with sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor.
“Our two new, unbundled apps are designed to do that for everyone. Swarm is for people who want the fastest and easiest way to connect with their friends. Foursquare is for explorers who want to know about the best spots, and to share what they’ve found with others. The two apps have been built to work seamlessly together… and we can’t wait until both apps are in your hands.”