Foursquare’s massive multi-month unbundling is finally completed. The new Foursquare app is available to download today, the check-in fully removed and placed in Swarm, Foursquare’s location-based social app.
The new flagship Foursquare application wants to help you figure out the best places to go with a Yelp-like location search engine. The new app will also use your previous Foursquare check in history, your Swarm data, and ambient location tracking to send you push notifications to suggest things to do, like what to order at a specific restaurant.
Foursquare’s push to split up its services have left many disgruntled users wondering why the check-in had to go. The apps’ reviews on the App Store are sitting between 1.5 and two stars each, and users are taking to social media to complain about the break up.
But for Foursquare, it was an obvious choice to remove the feature users had become accustomed to.
“The reason we split was that we realized local search is a much larger opportunity than check-ins alone,” Dennis Crowley, cofounder and CEO of Foursquare said in an interview with ReadWrite. “Check-ins are polarizing. It was preventing Foursquare from getting as big as it could get.”
For years, the word “Foursquare” has been synonymous with sharing your location, a social feature that makes people understandably uncomfortable. In order for the company to shed its creepy image, it needed to pull off a massive effort to get people to not only use Foursquare differently, but think about it differently, too.
Of course, the new Foursquare will still be monitoring your location, just not sharing it with your friends, unless you decide to do so in Swarm. In order for Foursquare to learn your favorite locations and send you suggestions, it needs to track where you go without you checking in first. Privacy advocates still might not be keen on giving Foursquare that much insight into their activities, though this setting can be turned off.
But for people comfortable with Foursquare knowing where they go, these suggestions could help them rediscover their city, or help kick off a spontaneous adventure when traveling abroad.
“We’ve always wanted the Foursquare brand to stand for introducing you to cool things in the world,” Crowley said.
According to Crowley, 90% of Foursquare’s check in users have started using Swarm. Those people complaining in the App Store and on Twitter? A vocal minority, he says.
“There’s a certain group of people, early Foursquare adopters … who are going to be like, ‘I don’t understand why it won’t be one app,’” Crowley said. “Those folks will continue to use both [Foursquare and Swarm.]”
On the Internet, no one likes change. Any time Facebook releases an app update, or Twitter experiments with direct messages, users are frustrated. The same is happening with Foursquare. But the number of applications users are expected to download is becoming overwhelming—do companies really expect us to use all of them?
Foursquare doesn’t expect everyone to use both apps. In fact, Foursquare ditching the location will likely attract more users who were uncomfortable with the check-in in the first place.
In the future, location recommendation engines like Foursquare could become the standard way people discover places to go—but it might not be the app everyone uses. Google recently added an Explore feature in Google Maps with striking similarities to the new Foursquare; it makes finding places around you based on your preferences simple, by searching in Maps.
With the new Foursquare, while search is simple, it’s the automatic push notifications that are key to decision-making. The app will send you push notifications as alerts based on what it thinks you’ll like. For Crowley, this is an opportunity that extends beyond the mobile device.
“I’m bullish on what were doing with these push notifications; one of the keys to social discovery in the future,” he said. “[They will] push up on your phone, in your Glass, in your phone, or your car.”
Foursquare’s future goals may include becoming the best social discovery app, even better than Yelp and Google. But right now, it needs to focus on getting people to see beyond the check-in that’s disappeared, otherwise Foursquare won’t have anyone to tell where to go.
Lead image courtesy of Silicon Prairie News via Flickr. Other photos courtesy of Foursquare.