Foursquare, the popular location-based social networking website for smartphones, is planning to split its core app into two separate experiences — one that provides place recommendations and another where users check in and see nearby friends, just like the original app.
Titled Swarm, the new app is not yet available. It appears to take a lot of inspiration from the Instant Messenger, where you can see when your friends are online and offline. Swarm also will let users know which friends are in the area and lets you chat with them.
Foursquare will also be redesigning its core app from scratch. Although the check-in option has been its most popular feature yet, it will done away with as the new app will focus on discovery and exploration.
In an interview with the Verge, co-founder and CEO Dennis Crowley, said, “The point of the company, this whole thing, was never to build an awesome check-in button.” But when Foursquare launched five years ago, the check-in button was important to know where people were going, when they wanted to share it, etc. Now that the company has all of that data, they don’t seem to need the feature anymore.
Foursquare’s directory of places, unlike Yelp’s, doesn’t feature paragraph-long diatribes that accompany the location. Instead, each location has specific ‘tips’ or short snippets of what’s best or what to avoid at any given destination. For example, rather than offering the ten best pizza places in your general area, Foursquare will know where you’ve been, what you’ve liked before, and what your friends like, so the results will be tailored to you in an almost predictive manner.
It will be hard for Foursquare to shift its reputation from a check-in app to a recommendation engine. Many people use Foursquare for this singular purpose, and the check-in is arguably Foursquare’s bread and butter. It is a risky move to remove checking in from Foursquare entirely, given people are accustomed to using Foursquare for this main reason, and not so much to find recommendations.
As a service that knows which restaurants you frequent, Foursquare telling you where to eat and what to order might come in handy (as long as you have no problem with Foursquare tracking your whereabouts the rest of the time). Neither of the new apps are available just yet, but should be in the coming weeks....