Foursquare forsaken

“For time is the longest distance between two places.”Tennessee Williams, American playwright

Thank goodness I am paranoid.

Ever since the Great App Update Crisis in December 2011, I have been wary of updating my phone apps. Updates take away functionality, introduce pop-up ads, change screen layout and other evil elements. Before I go out of town or update ANY app, I back up my phone. I recommend that you do it; you will not regret it.

That paranoia has saved me the stress and frustration people are now feeling using Foursquare.

To compare it to current leaders in the field, Foursquare was a Google search of places on a map based on any location and search criteria. Unlike Urbanspoon, the places were more than just restaurants and bars. You could find anything from coffee shops to clothing stores, parks, live music, strip clubs and museums, many with pictures of the venues. Each place offered reviews like Angie’s List or Yelp.

20140724-151958-55198789.jpg

My apps are jostling to see which one will get this prime real estate

By checking in to a location, much like on Facebook, you shared where you were and what you were doing at that moment like Twitter. You could add photos from your camera or from apps like Instagram. An added element of checking in was to earn points to compete with friends to top the leaderboard and with strangers for the bragging rights of being the Mayor of that location. You earned meaningless but insanely cool achievements. If this was the 10th pizza shop you checked into, you earned Pizzola Badge, Level 2.

It was also a diary. The app alerted you when you last visited a place. or if this was your first time here. I became hopelessly addicted to it. I used all aspects of it. I discovered new/old friends as well as new places. by following other peoples adventures, whatever they chose to share through checkins.Bragging rights as Mayor to earn or maintain, my proudest ones being a local Starbucks and Target. Everyone who played on Foursquare used some combination of all the elements. Those social, discovery, review, photo and game elements in one app is what made Foursquare unique.

That all-in-one is what Foursquare execs did not like. Jon Steinbeck, Foursquare vice president of product experience, said “…there was a ton we wanted to do on both sides that we can’t do if they are married together.” Developers split the one app into two apps. Current Foursquare users are upset because everyone used some combination of all the elements of play. Now Foursquare is just an index list of venues. The new app, Swarm, is just to check in and share with your friends. Yep…according to them, divorce is the answer.

Version 6.3 is the last before the update to the new streamlined look, and it’s the one I still use. I never updated due to a near-death experience with my phone’s data, phone history and photos. I’m hoping in the future I will have limited, defunct access to my To-Do lists and photos. It would be a shame to lose years of excitement and travels. Why my attachment to this app, you ask?

MY STATS SINCE 2010 (as of this post, July 23, 2014):

  • 16,684 checkins
  • Highest score: 1355 points (earned October 2013 during my 10th wedding anniversary trip to Disneyworld). I also top the leaderboard of my entire friend network!
  • 33 friends (I was selective with who I friended, just as I am on FB. These people had to be “safe,” so I looked at their pictures and stats before accepting their friend request. People who used vulgar language in their tips or were Mayors of unconventional places like strip clubs, they did not becomes my friends.
  • 1138 photos
  • 331 tips
  • 68 badges
  • 71 Mayorships

There are a multitude of discovery apps out there, with new ones coming all the time, but none with the unique combination. New Foursquare users will most likely be loyal until the next latest and greatest app comes on the market. Just like the next marriage. And the next one after that.

It appears that the “new” Foursquare will become a tailored recommendation app based on where you hang out and visit. I’m not sure how that will work without checkins. Foursquare is so proud of its new creation, but by alienating its original, passionate users, who’s going to be left to discover all these potentially-cool features?

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Memories Swarm around me | D.W. Hirsch

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