News by Andrew Kameka on Thursday May 15, 2014.
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Foursquare has taken the first step to completing its planned split of the check-in function and its location recommendation service by launching Swarm, an off-shoot of the Foursquare app that changes the focus of the check-in app. In fact, Foursquare is no longer really a check-in app because Swarm has been created for the sole purpose of tracking where people are and where that location is in relation to their friends. If you want to discover discounts at local restaurants or find a decent place to get pho, stick with Foursquare. If you want to know your friend's location, you'll need to get use to Swarm because Foursquare plans to remove the friend tracking feature.
Swarm is available now for Android and iOS as the new version of what Foursquare's friend finder with a few changes. For instances, you still might want to check-in to a venue to become Mayor, but you'll only be competing with friends rather than everyone who visits the location. Swiping to turn on Neighborhood view lets people know your general area and checking-in at a location shares the exact location. It provides an opt-in view of friends in five categories: Right Here (500ft), A short walk away (1 mile), Nearby (5 miles), In the area (20 miles), and Far Far Away (more than 20 miles).
Friends who check-in at a specific location or neighborhood reveal to authorized people where they are, so it makes it easy to find a place to hang out. When I checked in at a diner in New Jersey, I saw one friend who was at a pub 1 mile away and more who were at a cafe in New York. Tapping on that person could make it possible for me to like his or her check-in or start a conversation through Facebook, phone, and SMS about possibly meeting up for lunch.
There's also a searchable find a friend feature, if you're looking for someone specific, and a tab that logs the most recent check-ins of all your friends. The most useful way to connect with friends might be the Plans tab. That's where someone can reveal what they plan to do later -- attend a play, visit a museum, eat lunch in the park -- and friends can tap a button to reveal their interest in joining or adding comments o suggest alternatives or tips. For people who grow tired of group messaging when trying to plan something, this may come in handy.
Of course, this is all assuming that you can get your friends to migrate to Swarm. Foursquare makes it easy to continue as you were by transferring friends list and history over to Swarm seamlessly, but if people are less focused on the check-in as they once were, they might be less interested in downloading a new app to use them. Anyone who wants to know where to go and who's already there will have to do that because the main Foursquare app will only offer those features for a limited time.
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.