Posts tagged Foursquare

Google Maps New Explore Feature Takes On Foursquare

Google wants to help you make decisions using the tool you already use to get directions.

On Thursday, the company launched an Explore feature for Google Maps that lets people discover places like restaurants and local hot spots with a tap of an icon located in the far right corner of Maps.

Like Foursquare’s new flagship application which eliminates the check-in, Google’s Explore feature is designed to help you find out information about places near you, and learns your behavior when you confirm places you visit to provide better suggestions.

Exploring in Google Maps will also take into account factors like weather and time of day, so you won’t get suggestions for a dinner restaurant at 9 a.m. or suggestions for a park if it’s pouring rain. You’ll be able to get more information from a place once you’ve arrive and you can bookmark places for later—a handy feature for saving your favorite burrito spot.

Tapping the Explore icon also shows you top-rated restaurants from Zagat and categories like popular attractions, local favorites and weekend brunch spots.

Explore is available in Google Maps on iOS and Android. Google suggests signing in with your Google account to use the new feature, and turn on location reporting and history—though I tested it this morning without signing in, and it provided some great suggestions. 

Lead image by Pedro Ribeiro Simões on Flickr. Explore images courtesy of Google. 

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Foursquare Upgrades App, Transitions Check-Ins to Swarm

Calling it the beginning of the ‘personalized local search’ future, Foursquare has moved all check-in functionality from Foursquare to Swarm. It has also revealed a new logo and given us a sneak peek of what the new Foursquare will look like.

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SearchCap: Foursquare Swarms, Facebook Search & Google Maps Explore

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. From Search Engine Land: It’s Time For Marketers To Attend To The Branding Benefits Of Search Google recently released a study that concluded, “Search Ads Lift Brand…



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Foursquare Sneak Previews New “Personalized Local Search” & Moves All Check-Ins To Swarm

If you’ve been one of the few fearless folks holding out from updating their Foursquare app, your days are numbered. In a blog post and an email sent out to early adopters , Foursquare alerted its constituency that as of tomorrow all check-ins will be required to occur on Swarm, the new hub…



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Foursquare Goes All In With Personalized Local Search by @mattsouthern

Today, Foursquare unveiled a new look, new logo, and most importantly they announced a new feature that will be a core focus of their business going forward – personalized local search. Local search, as we know it today, doesn’t “get” its users, Foursquare contends. With that being the case, we all get similar results when conducting a local search in our area. Fourquare asks: “Why should two very different people get the same recommendations when they visit Paris? Or the same list of places when they’re looking for a bar?” In a couple weeks that’s about to change, as Foursquare […]

The post Foursquare Goes All In With Personalized Local Search by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Foursquare To Charge For Local Database — Will Partners Balk?

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Foursquare will soon be charging a small number of partners to use its Venue Database. Recently Microsoft and Foursquare agreed to a $15 million investment/licensing deal that brings Foursquare content to Bing search results and Windows Mobile….



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SearchCap: Bing + Twitter, Foursquare Fees & Okay Google

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. From Search Engine Land: Bing Ups Its Twitter Game: Rolls Out Hashtag & Twitter Handle Search Features Starting this week, Bing users are going to see even more Twitter content in…



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The Era Of The Check-In Is Over, And Foursquare Is Moving On

There was a moment of laughter when ReadWrite editor-in-chief Owen Thomas asked Foursquare founder and CEO Dennis Crowley the question that was on everyone’s mind at Tuesday night’s ReadWriteMix event in San Francisco: “Is Foursquare still a thing?”

Crowley has big plans for his company, which include fragmenting its signature check-in app into two pieces. At ReadWriteMix, he told the crowd that the future of Foursquare isn’t the check-in. Instead, it’s two completely separate activities that now live in two different Foursquare-made apps.

Soon Foursquare will no longer be an app dominated by a check-in button. Indeed, it won’t even have one. Instead, the company is turning its flagship application into a Yelp-like location recommendation service that learns your behavior and sends you notifications on your phone it thinks you might find helpful.

For instance, if I regularly eat at burrito places in San Francisco, and I have Foursquare location service turned on, it will monitor those locations and learn where I go. Then, when I visit San Diego, Foursquare will send me a push notification for a burrito restaurant I might like.

The check-in will live in Swarm, Foursquare’s new social app—but that’s not the main focus of the app, either. Instead, Swarm is meant to help you find nearby friends and make plans, thanks to the ambient location services knowing where you are at all times. If you have that turned on, your friends can tell which neighborhood you’re in.

Social networking isn’t the future for Foursquare. Its robust places database rivals Google’s, and, with over 65,000 apps using Foursquare’s places API, the amount of location data the company has is huge.

Crowley said that people regularly ask him how to leverage that location data, including small businesses, journalists, and city officials. For instance, urban planners look at check-in data as they build out cities and suburban areas, he said.

The Potential Of Empowering Business

This radical change to Foursquare’s product comes at a time when the business finally seems to be hitting its stride.

“In the first two quarters of this year, we’ll make more money than we did all of last year,” he said.

Each check-in on Foursquare—soon, on Swarm—contributes to what Crowley calls “venue polygons.” These location shapes define a specific business or place, and can be used to create markers for geofences that will be able to tell when you’ve entered a specific location.

At this week’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, many people expected Apple to talk about iBeacon, its Bluetooth-powered product that can alert shoppers to deals or recommendations, as well as allow people to make payments from their smartphones, when they enter a place of business, or even a particular section of a store. Apple didn’t announce any information about iBeacon this week, but at ReadWriteMix, Crowley talked about Foursquare’s potential to provide businesses with similar options.

Where iBeacon depends on Bluetooth transmitters which can transmit data to a smartphone, Crowley says Foursquare has the capabilities to map places purely through its software and data, without draining people’s smartphone batteries. And it also won’t require small-business owners to place new devices in their stores.

“We think about this: How can we do what iBeacon is doing, but do it without having to ask people to install stuff in their store?” he said.

The hardware can be cumbersome, and it’s still not widely adopted. If Foursquare can offer similar capabilities by leveraging smartphone location data and partnering with different businesses, people might soon be able to step into a store, read a suggestion, and make a purchase, all from the palm of their hand—and the business wouldn’t have to do much at all. 

Of course, Crowley’s vision for a Foursquare that tracks your ambient location data and knows where you are at all times brings up serious privacy concerns. As more people become wary of sharing private data with both friends and social networks, the question becomes whether people want or need a service that is all-knowing, and all-tracking. 

“Our intent is to make these magical pieces of software that teach you about the world,” Crowley said. 

On both Foursquare and Swarm, you can turn the ambient location sharing off—but, of course, that takes away from some of the benefits you get by downloading them in the first place. Like any other social network, if you want to use Foursquare or Swarm for convenience, you’ll have to trust your data to the company. For some, it’s worth it. But others will never be convinced that allowing both Foursquare and friends to know where they are at all times is a good idea.

Just before the end of the event, Crowley told the audience he wants their feedback, and it’s important to the company to better understand how people use Foursquare, and learn what problems they perceive. 

“If anyone thinks we’re doing something we shouldn’t, I hope you call us out on it,” he said. 

Image via Selena Larson for ReadWrite

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Foursquare Execs Depart Amid The Company’s Big Strategic Shift

Just two weeks after Foursquare split up its flagship application, the company itself is making significant changes. Chief operating officer Evan Cohen and business development head Holger Luedorf are leaving the company after four years, Recode reports.

The move comes at a crucial time for the company, given doubts about Foursquare’s popularity with users and the major repositioning it’s doing as a result. Its most significant move to date was to split its famed check-in service into a separate app it calls Swarm, which not only checks users into particular locations, but broadcasts their “ambient location” to help friends meet up whenever they happen to find themselves in the same general location.

Foursquare’s primary app, still called Foursquare, now serves primarily as a Yelp-like location-recommendation service, one that will also offer fine-grained suggestions such as what to order at restaurants based on feedback from other users.

The company is tight-lipped about user numbers. While Foursquare says it has 50 million downloads, it’s unclear how many of those people use the service regularly. The two key executive departures suggest user growth and revenue may be stagnating. 

Foursquare is not concerned, however. In an interview with Recode, CEO Dennis Crowley said, “We’re really excited about the direction and the momentum that we have right now, and Foursquare would not have gotten here without the contributions that Evan has made.” He also added that the executives’ simultaneous departures were just a coincidence.

A Foursquare spokesman told ReadWrite that Cohen and Luedorf, who had both been at Foursquare for more than four years, were ready to start working at smaller companies.

Former Matrix Partners entrepreneur-in-residence Jeffrey Glueck will replace Cohen as COO, and Mike Harkey, who has been part of the business development team for two years, will take over for Luedorf.

Lead image courtesy of Foursquare

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Why Swarm Won’t Save Foursquare

The first thing I did after downloading Foursquare’s new Swarm app was drastically cull my friends list on Foursquare from over 100 people down to just 19. 

When I joined Foursquare a few years ago, I was living in Arizona, still in college—a completely different lifestyle. As the years went by, things changed but my friends list kept growing. I stopped using Foursquare for checking in, and started using it as a location recommendation service, similar to Yelp. In my mind, it wasn’t really a social network anymore—in fact, I started keeping it among the travel apps on my iPhone.

This is the concept Foursquare wants to build: to move beyond the check-in. The company’s recent unbundling of its services yielded two separate entities—Swarm, the social network; and Foursquare, the app you’ll use when trying to figure out what to do next.

Foursquare isn’t the first social network to experiment with splitting up its services. Facebook, most notably, has been trying to unbundle itself for years, sometimes failing along the way. Its latest move—forcing Facebook users into Messenger if they want to chat on mobile devices—was largely criticized, for example.

Foursquare is also taking a risk by dividing its efforts for two distinctly different services seemingly working in opposite directions. Yes, Foursquare’s location discovery application will use your check-in data from Swarm, but Swarm also wants to create a different social experience entirely.

Swarm—Creepy Or Convenient? 

Swarm was Foursquare’s way of ripping the check-in from its flagship app. The new social app uses your phone’s GPS function to broadcast where you are at all times, and view others’ locations, too. 

Named after the Foursquare “Swarm Badge” that signifies a busy location, Swarm is the latest “ambient location” app to launch this year. “Ambient location” apps rely on mobile phones’ location services to display your general area to your friends in a passive way, without the need to check into any specific location. That’s how Swarm works. 

If you decide you want to share your exact location with friends, Swarm’s check-in feature is basically the same, but now you can also share your future plans with friends and invite them to join in. Ambient location sharing can be turned off, but it’s on by default.

I’m skeptical of location sharing in general. I rarely check into places until I’m ready to leave, and even then, I don’t see the benefit. And with Swarm, my general location is visible to anyone at any time. There are only a handful of people I’d be okay with knowing that information, and it’s not anyone on the friends list I’d amassed since joining Foursquare four years ago. 

I’m probably not alone here. Ambient location apps haven’t taken off, and even Facebook’s attempt to get friends to share their general locations has fallen flat. Most people don’t mind telling their friends where they are, as long as they’re okay with those friends joining them. I bet most people don’t have 100 or more friends they’d enjoy meeting up with randomly on the street. 

Foursquare doesn’t disclose monthly active user numbers, but the company boasts over 50 million app downloads. Still, one would imagine users stay in contact with friends over Twitter and Facebook more often than they do with Foursquare, and moving check-ins to Swarm may not help Foursquare in that regard. 

Foursquare is simply not as popular as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, even though the company is technically in the same category as those companies. In 2010, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley was even dubbed “The New King Of Social Media”—but four years later, Foursquare may be doing more rebuilding than refining.

Swarm, Foursquare’s new social arm, will more or less need to build its community from the ground up; Crowley says the company is building tools to make it easier to bounce between Foursquare’s apps, but I doubt users like me, who primarily use Foursquare as a recommendation tool, will find Swarm appealing. 

A New Direction For Foursquare

As Swarm tries to popularize proximity apps, Foursquare will have its own hurdles to jump.

The new Foursquare app to be released later this year will offer suggestions on where to go and what to order, based on users’ unique location histories. On the plus side, Foursquare’s directory of places consists of over six billion check-ins, which is more than any other service—arguably enviable by Google or Yelp. 

Foursquare will learn your behavior based on your previous check-ins and ambient location data—such as where you like to eat, or when you like to go to the movies—and tailor suggestions for where you should go next. The Foursquare app will eventually deliver push notifications when you are at a new location, and serve up suggestions for what to do there. 

Many places have “tips,” or small reviews written by Foursquare after they check in. Unlike Yelp, these Foursquare reviews tend to be short and concise. As Foursquare moves away from the check-in, these reviews will be the focal point of the new application.

The only way for Foursquare to collect your location data once check-ins are removed is to use location services running in the background to track where you’ve been, which is concerning for privacy-conscious folks. In order to receive tailored push notifications, you’ll have to let Foursquare track you.

Foursquare’s collection of places is likely robust enough on its own to succeed as a competitor to Yelp. But will users be comfortable giving up their location information to both Foursquare and casual contacts on a regular basis? I’m not convinced. 

Lead image via John Fischer on Flickr

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