Earlier this month, popular location app Foursquare announced that they would be splitting the core functions of the app in two, creating an entirely new app called Swarm that primarily deals with check-ins, friends, and the real "social" aspects of Foursquare.
Well, it's ready to go. You can download it now on iOS and Android.
We're ready for you! Download Swarm now! http://t.co/uNxO5CTVNQ
— Swarm (@swarmapp) May 15, 2014
For years, Foursquare talked about "moving beyond the check-in." What they meant is that they wanted Foursquare to become a true local search and recommendation app that could compete with the likes of Yelp. Over the past year or so (ever since the launch of Foursquare version 6.0, really), the company has been making little tweaks to their app in order to do that–and they've been rather successful. Foursquare is currently much more than check-ins, and is a solid place to go to find out what's around you and what people are saying about it.
But to complete the transformation, Foursquare had to do something drastic–so they did. The new Foursquare, which will launch at a later date, will focus entirely on local search and discovery, and the company relegated all of the check-in and friend business to their new app, Swarm.
So, let's talk about check-ins on Swarm.
Apart from looking different than the main Foursquare app, check-ins on Swarm follow the same basic functionality. You pick a place and then have the option to attach a message, post a photo, or tag friends alongside the check-in.
But there are a few new tricks to checking-in with Swarm.
First, Swarm automatically predicts and selects your location. If it's wrong, you can select "change location" at the top of your check-in. Second, you now have stickers to accompany your check-ins.
"In the new Swarm, we built a bunch of stickers you can attach to your check-ins to quickly express how you feel or what you’re doing. (Don’t worry, they’re all free!) We’ll give you a few to start off with and, as you go out and explore the world, you’ll unlock more based on the places you visit," says Foursquare.
When it comes to what you "earn" from check-ins–mayorships and badges–they're sticking around, don't worry. But Foursquare is changing up mayorships in a pretty significant way. Introducing, multiple mayors...
"We wanted to get back to a fun way to compete with your friends instead of all 50,000,000 people who are on Foursquare. With these new mayorships, if you and a couple friends have been checking in to a place, the person who has been there the most lately gets a crown sticker. So you and your friends can compete for the mayorship of your favorite bar, without having to worry about the guy who is there every. single. day. Mayors 2.0 means that places can have many different mayors, one for each circle of friends, instead of just a single mayor at each place," says Foursquare.
So your mayorships are now stickers, and they are limited to your specific group of friends (mayorships on the main Foursquare app have been locked, by the way).
In terms of badges-there will be some. Foursquare says that they are coming later and are the "spiritual successor" to the old Foursquare badges. They also say that they are going to show you more "insights about your life" on Swarm, for instance those "you've been at a bar for seven straight weeks" messages you (or maybe just I) get after check-ins.
Apart from check-ins, mayorships, and badges, it looks like Foursquare wants Swarm to be about finding and making plans with friends. Your home screen, for lack of a better word, looks like this:
Swarm will show you your friends' locations, sorted by proximity. Tapping on any friend will give you a more detailed look at where they are.
This is probably a good time to bring up the feature likely to confuse the most users: Neighborhood Sharing. It's basically passive location broadcasting, in which your location is shown if you're in a friend's "neighborhood," even if you haven't officially checked in anywhere.
Though a bit of a privacy concern, it's easily toggled on or off by simply swiping the top of your home screen.
One of your tabs in the new Swarm app is devoted to friends' plans. It's basically a message board where you can post generic "plans" like "hey, who's up for a beer later? I'll be on the lower east side" and your friends can respond.
The good thing about Swarm, so far, is that it's seamlessly connected to Foursquare proper. Check in on Swarm? As long as you've signed in via your already-existent Foursquare account, it'll cross-post there (complete with your new sticker). Also, Swarm has a neat new search feature that let's you find old check-ins, which is nice if you're trying to remember doing something after a night trying not to remember much of anything.
So, go try out Swarm if you're really into Foursquare's check-ins and such. If you mainly use Foursquare for its Yelp-like qualities, the new main Foursquare app focusing on just that will launch later this summer.
All Images via Foursquare