Foursquare 5.0: Check Ins, Revisited

Foursquare has always been the dominant force in the location-centric social networking game. As of April 2012, They have twenty million registered users, and an average of around three million check-ins per day, most likely coming from mobile platforms.

Recently, they released a significant redesign of it’s service, pushing out an update that transforms the iPhone app by an order of magnitude. Alongside a brand new interface, Foursquare brought a number of new features to it’s iPhone app in a completely re-imagined package. Let’s take a fresh look at Foursquare, and see what some have described as an entirely new app.

Check In

The app is separated into four distinct sections, the first being where you actually check in. This is accessible through the button that’s conveniently positioned in the top-right corner of the app. Here, you’ll be presented with a map of your current location, with pins marking both nearby locations and deals that you can tap to select in order to check in to. Alternatively, you can use the list of locations under the map to identify your location.

When you’ve selected your location, you’ll be taken to the check-in screen, where you can add some text and even a photo. You’re also able to toggle whether to share the check in with Facebook and/or Twitter, or whether you want it to be completely private. It’s a simple process that’s as intuitive as it is beautiful.

The check-in process, wrapped in Foursquare 5's beautiful user interface.

The check-in process, wrapped in Foursquare 5's beautiful user interface.

Friends

The second core section of Foursquare 5 is Friends, where the social network vibe seems to have been completely rewritten. Now, a check in looks and feels much more like a post than just a piece of data. When you check in somewhere, a new post in your friends’ “Friends” feed is created that can be attached to the text or photos you might create when you check in. You can like and comment on these posts, and become friends with other users.

Further evidencing the social network vibe is that your feed will also fill when your friends like posts or make friends.

The Friends feed shows that check ins are more than just data in Foursquare 5.

The Friends feed shows that check ins are more than just data in Foursquare 5.

You can tap on a location in your feed to view more information on the place, as well as a map with the specific location marked on. Here, you can like a location, save it, load up directions in the stock Maps app, view tips for the location and see who the incumbent mayor is.

Explore

The third section of Foursquare 5 is Explore, which shows how Foursquare is much more about discovering new places than it ever was before.

The Explore section features a map, showing the various mapped places nearby that are in the Foursquare system. The section will also show off specials nearby and popular spots. You can jump to an alternative location to explore for places, and/or filter down results to just food, nightlife, arts, sights, coffee spots, shopping locations, overall trending places or ones that have Foursquare specials.

Exploring the nearby area in Foursquare 5.

Exploring the nearby area in Foursquare 5.

With this update, Foursquare becomes much more than just a place to check in. Now, the app can be your one-stop-shop for finding a place to grab a bite or a drink, or be a proxy for searching out good deals in the local area.

You

The last section is You, or, more correctly, whatever your name is. By tapping on the bottom-right tab, you’ll be able to access your profile page that lists mosts of the stuff it always has: your badges, your friends, your photos. However, you’ll now be able to see your recent history of check-ins, a feature limited to just one in previous versions. This is a great addition as it allows you to relive your steps over the past few days, as well as potentially re-identify places you’ve been to in the past.

The various profile details in Foursquare 5.

The various profile details in Foursquare 5.

You’ll also be able to access all the staples of your being on Foursquare, including your lists of your friends, badges and your statistics, including access to the leaderboard and a list of your top places (by number of checkins).

Closing Thoughts

Foursquare 5 is new, but all the core mechanics are still in play. You check in at places, with each one going towards a potential or outstanding mayorship, all while sharing with friends, earning badges and leaving tips for your fellow visitors. It wraps this all in a beautiful UI that is, quite literally, one of the best I’ve seen on a mobile app. From a fantastic range of typography to a great crispness on a retina display, the design of the app is just top notch.

Foursquare has been gaining a bit of steam away from the notion of just checking in and leaving the app. It’s now  equally focused on finding new locations for you to visit, and even offer up tips generated by users. And, as more users start joining, it’ll only get better, with yet more locations and yet more tips and feedback (and, of course, more competition for mayorships!).


Summary

A location-based social network centred around users checking in to locations, while discovering new ones in their surrounding area.

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