I've only had Foursquare's new "Swarm" app for a day, but I'm already super impressed. By trimming out all of the search/review features, they're able to focus the app on providing a great checkin experience and providing more ways to connect with your friends.
Congrats, Swarm, you just earned a place on my home screen.
Here are a few of my first impressions after using the app for a day:
Automatic Venue Selection
This is a huge improvement! As soon as you tap the "check in" button, this screen opens with a venue pre-filled. So far it's done a pretty good job of choosing the right location when I open, since it appears to draw from my previous checkin history rather than just sorting by what's nearby. By pre-filling the location, it only takes two taps to check in!
I'll be interested to see how smart it is about choosing a location for me. Seems like it could get pretty accurate if it also factors in the time of day I'm checking in. (e.g. I usually check in to Barista around 10am so if I'm anywhere nearby and checking in at that time, chances are that's where I am.)
Something I've been wanting to do forever is search my checkin history! I'm surprised it took them this long to finally launch this feature, but it's fantastic!
I can't even say how many times I've wanted to know the last time I was at a place, or find out the last time I ate sushi. Now I can type the name of a venue, or even a category, and I'll see all my previous checkins!
I was definitely surprised to see a "plans" feature implemented by Foursquare! I remember years ago, many startups trying to implement this in one way or another.
The feature within Swarm is well executed, but I haven't spent enough time with it to know if it's truly valuable yet. I hope to get some chances to try it out for real in the next couple weeks. This great Portland weather sure helps!
The new layout of the home screen showing nearby friends is great! Having the list sorted by distance is way more useful than showing a timeline of all my friends' recent checkins regardless of their location.
Neighborhood sharing is something I've experimented with in the past myself, actually. For a while, a few of us were using an app we wrote using the Geoloqi API which would post to Facebook every time we entered a new city.
I'm hopeful that this will be a useful feature of Foursquare! However it's hard to tell after only one day. I'm definitely excited for it though! I've always thought that even this little bit of information would be more useful than no information, and it certainly doesn't take any extra battery power to collect location information at this level.
The sign-in experience was fantastic. I launched the app and it prompted me asking if I was "Aaron Parecki". It occurred to me that since iOS has no way for apps to communicate with each other, they must have implemented something clever! I asked Ryan Arana if he happened to know of any APIs that would let them do this, and he immediately pointed to the
identifierForVendor method on
UIDevice, which returns an identifier guaranteed to be unique across all apps by the same developer.
The way I imagine this would work is when the app launches, it sends the identifier to Foursquare's API which returns my Foursquare account info if it matches the same identifier for my Foursquare account. Then there must be an API method that returns a Foursquare access token given the vendor identifier. A very clever way of doing single-sign-on across multiple apps!
Overall, I'm super impressed with the app update, and it is definitely encouraging me to continue using Foursquare rather than replace it with my own homebrew solution on this site. Long-term, I will likely set up a realtime import of my Foursquare checkins similar to what I did with importing my Instagram photos using OwnYourGram.