updated 05:25 pm EDT, Thu May 1, 2014
New app splits social component from discovery capabilities of Foursquare
After years of opening up Foursquare to check into locations in hopes of becoming "the mayor," it appears that the application is going to go through significant changes. Rather than being a single app used to find friends and new locations, the company is splitting the application in half with the announcement of a second application.
The new app, named Swarm, will take over for the social aspect of Foursquare -- dividing friends into regional location proximity in order to make connections easier and more relevant. Users of Swarm will be able see friends that are nearby on a list or map, without the need of pinpoint GPS-level accuracy. In an interview with The Verge, VP of Product Management for Foursquare Noah Weiss noted that the new application would be "using passive location-sharing in a way that people actually want." He makes the point that users aren't looking for details down to the precise longitude and latitude, but rather quick access to those nearby.
To help this, Swarm will handle location changes in a passive manner. Users of the new app will still be able to check in with it, but Swarm will also automatically update the general location without user action. Proximity to friends and regions will then update on its own.
The discovery aspect of Foursquare is going to be played up in the next iteration of the service. With the social aspect removed from the original application, Foursquare is going to be taking a more refined direction that will make a run at existing local services such as Yelp. However, the popular check-in feature for Foursquare will be removed, instead being left to Swarm.
Part of the plan for the new Foursquare has the company looking to gain an edge over the existing applications, and services will be in how it uses the information at hand. Rather than give a ranked list based on collected data for a specified area, Foursquare will make recommendations based on user tastes and input that has been provided to the application.
It will still use collected knowledge, but looks to use it in a different manner to offer tips and specific recommendations. Another advantage in the change is that tips will automatically pop-up from the application when a user enters a location, rather than having to check into the app and find appropriate information.
No specific date has been given for the launch of Swarm, nor the new version of Foursquare. However, the company did mention that Swarm would be available "within a few weeks" on Android and iOS, with a Windows Phone version coming later. Foursquare's new look is expected to be available this summer.