To say it’s a dramatic overhaul is putting things lightly: Foursquare scorched the earth of mayorships (upsetting a few users), and spun the humble check-in into its own standalone location-sharing app, Swarm, back in May.
So what does Foursquare 8.0 offer that previous versions apparently didn’t? Intelligent, personalized recommendations.
Infographic: Foursquare’s New Tool Maps Your Check-Ins
As we amass more and more data about ourselves, the big challenge will be creating tools that help us put it to use in productive, positive ways. A quantified self is not necessarily an improved one. In the meantime, though, some personalized eye-candy can’t hurt.
Foursquare launched its own visualization tool last week, letting users view their last 12 months of activity in a few different ways. In each, check-ins are represented by colorful little badges. You can sort them by date or by category, which line the badges up into orderly little rows. The latter will probably just confirm what you already know: you go out for coffee way too often.
A circular “connections” view is a little more insightful, showing all the different places you went throughout the year after checking in at a certain location. Here, you might get confirmation of things you already knew deep down but never really liked to acknowledge. You’ll be able to see, say, where you tend to check-in after sessions at the gym. Take-out food joints? Oh well, you’ve earned it, or something.
As the company wrote in a blog post accompanying the release, the tool is “just our small way of saying, ‘Thanks! We think you’re awesome.’” Also a small way of saying think how much cooler these would look if you used Foursquare more often.
"The overall visual design of the app was the big thing we thought about when taking this thing apart and putting it back together," Hogue says. "The goal for any search engine is to help people find the things they’re looking for—that’s the simplest definition of search. Obviously, pictures give you a real visceral feel for what’s going on—so this allows you to very quickly skim through a set of results, and understand very quickly the gist of a place, whether it’s a dive bar or a nice fancy restaurant, or whether they serve beautiful food or just a burger on a plate. Pictures communicate that in a way that raw text just can’t."
“Cofounder and CEO Dennis Crowley has highlighted this trend of Yelpification. In March, Crowley said he’s noticed the service’s user base drifting away from check-ins. “People are using the app, but they’re not checking in,” Crowley told TechCrunch. “I asked myself: Did we break something? But in fact, it’s because people are using Foursquare to look for where their friends are, to find things, and as a recommendation service. It’s almost like it doesn’t occur to them to check in.””
Foursquare has entered the mostly uneventful period between takeoff and landing. And one of its earliest employees, Tristan Walker, has left the comfort of its cruising altitude in search of the next rocket ride.
Today, the startup Flavors.me takes another swipe at the over-sharing problem, launching a new version of the service aimed at tackling our social media A.D.D. Founder Jonathan Marcus says he wants Flavors to become a “catch-all” for social content, a stream designed to aggregate fragmented social services. “I want a website that lets the content really shine,” he says. “I want a website that showcases me and those close to me in a visual way, and change how social content is presented.”
So far we have Ben Lerer, Cofounder and CEO of Thrillist.com and Naveen Selvadurai, Cofounder of Foursquare sharing their own little slices of insight on how spontaneity and passion collide to create something bigger than themselves.