Foursquare has gone through some interesting transformations, with the most recent version taking advantage of the latest smartphone features. While it could have stopped at check-ins, it’s expanded to include exploration and recommendation as it fights to keep us all interested. So far, it’s working out nicely.
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You can check in, but you can never check out. Just kidding. (Kind of.) While you can’t necessarily “check out” after you leave your most recent destination, when you “check in” at your next destination, Foursquare indicates that you’ve moved on. And up until recently, that actually more or less summed up the bulk of Foursquare’s reason to exist. But hey, these smartphones keep getting smarter, so the apps we’ve come to know and love better keep up, right?
Foursquare is always running in the background, even when you’re not using it—unless of course you force quit the app or turn off location sharing. Recognizing your current destination, Foursquare will pop up on your phone and say, “Hey! Hello! Nice to see you! Looks like you’re [insert location here]. Wanna check in?” (Okay so that’s not exactly word-for-word, but you get the picture.)
And you know what? We’re not creeped out—we love it. Foursquare’s ability to detect our location is something that actually makes our smartphones feel smart. We also really enjoy the fact that Foursquare has integrated an incredibly deep selection of items to search and explore, adding discovery to its arsenal of socially aware improvements.
Design-wise, Foursquare has come a long way, and its current iteration is as straightforward as possible, but still interesting. And we more than appreciate—and applaud—the unexpected, subtle humor. The “floating” check-in button is a nice touch with its simplicity and unobtrusiveness, while the app’s features are cleverly hidden away right where you would expect them to be, even if they are a little less than easily accessible. (To be fair, we’re not sure how much of it needs to be easily accessible.)
As always, sharing to Facebook and Twitter is easy and optional—which is great, because sometimes you don’t want everyone knowing your location and what you’re doing (we know, it’s odd, considering the purpose and function of Foursquare itself). Still present are the often-humorous badges you can earn for frequenting your regular haunts, branching out to new places or taking part in certain events. One of our favorite features—the “specials” you can unlock at predetermined locations—is still alive and well, and we hope that continues to receive more attention.
If Foursquare is missing anything, it’s the function we jokingly referred to earlier: the ability to check out. Given that the app has reached the point of being “aware” enough to offer check-in reminders at certain places, we’d love to see the developers take it a step further and initiate a feature that checks us out of locations when we’re a certain distance away. Make the app current and up-to-date—a true GPS- and location-driven social experience. Give us the option to turn it on and off easily, and give the in-app map some utility! For planning purposes, this could be a great tool with a lot of unexplored possibilities.
As a standalone app, Foursquare has more than held its own. If the developers continue to push the envelope and create new ways for us to use it, Foursquare is poised to stick around for a long time to come. And we hope it does. There are so many badges we have yet to earn!
Reviewed: Apr 17, 2014 | Caitlin M. FoytAlso featured on: eHarmony Logs Dates, MyFitnessPal Partners with FitStar + Other App News You Need to Know, Also featured on: Facebook Paper Launches, GetGlue Changes Name to tvtag + Other App News You Need to Know, Also featured on: Instagram Debuts “Direct” Messaging, Foursquare Cuts Private Check-Ins + Other App News For You, Also featured on: Best iPhone Apps of 2012…So Far
This app is included in a scenario called 4 Ambient Social Location Apps for Finding People Around You