Digital

How the New Foursquare Check-in App Swarm Works

May 15, 2014 4:40 pm

Skift Take

Foursquare needs to bring its biggest fans along to Swarm, but it will be hard to do so if the users feel like they are being abandoned by the brand.

— Jason Clampet

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Today Foursquare split itself in two.

A struggling giant in social, Foursquare shed check-ins from its core, and as a result, it may alienate its 50 million users into the arms of a competitor. But Foursquare’s goal isn’t just to retain users.

No, the location-sharing and discovery service believes it’s found a way to keep you more engaged than ever, and it wants you to use both of its new apps in tandem.

In a conversation with VentureBeat, Foursquare product experience VP Jon Steinback says the firm believes people will use Foursquare’s apps as they use Facebook’s unbundled services, “like Facebook and Facebook messenger, where you can jump back and forth within the app.”

“Foursquare is the place for tips and opinions about a place. Swarm is the place for the social stuff. This is a little complicated. Change is really hard. It’s part of the reason why we’ve tried to explain things as clearly as possible. There’s obviously some stuff that’s different and there’s a lot of education that takes place.”

“The future of foursquare asks: How do you discover places that you’ll love?,” says Steinback. Now, Foursquare believes its self-titled app “is the future of local search. We fundamentally believe local search is broken,” Steinback tells VentureBeat.

As for the check-ins, Foursquare’s claim to fame, they’ll be completely removed from the app later this summer. For now, Foursquare check-ins co-exist with Swarm, Foursquare’s new app for all things social.

“You have two different use cases — when you’re deciding where to go to dinner, and the second one when you want to get a drink afterwards and meet up with friends…Swarm will make your life better by helping you meet up with friends more often.”

For Foursquare users, the experience starts with search. Let’s say you’re out to find the best coffee shop. A simple search might reveal the following, ad-packed results. Pick your poison.

1-foursquare-new-flow

When you arrive, pop open the Swarm app. Share your location.

2-foursquare-new-flow

Hop back into Foursquare for a review, add it to a list, or just feel around Swarm for a bit to see where your friends are and what they’re up to.

3-foursquare-new-flow

For users eager to switch to the new flow, it won’t be a seamless experience. Foursquare has opted to transition users gradually into Swarm. As such, check-ins, points, and other features awkwardly remain in Foursquare. It’s easy to forget which app to use for what, although Foursquare shares that after downloading Swarm, users will notice small, discovery-focused changes to the Foursquare app.

By not eliminating check-ins from Foursquare immediately, the firm believes users won’t feel burned. The new Foursquare is in “the advanced testing phases,” and is “rebuilt from the ground up,” shares Steinback.

“This is on a huge bet on the future of foursquare,” Steinback claims, but Foursquare’s future is in limbo for the moment.

Before the transition is complete, the startup’s future is on hold. For now, Foursquare’s controversial future is neither bright nor doomed.

This article originally appeared on VentureBeat.

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