Loosely speaking, Foursquare has always been a sort of social network, but the company is looking to get a lot more social with their new app. Instead of focusing on the relationship between businesses and customers, Swarm is all about you and your friends. Everything contained within is focused on getting groups together.... though if you did so at a local bar or cafe, Foursquare probably wouldn't mind.

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There are three components to Swarm: a Facebook/Twitter-style news feed, a standard messaging system, and a social map. The former is pretty obvious, showing events and short posts from your friends, which can include other tagged users. This is a more functional version of Foursquare's existing social integration. The messaging system is pretty self-explanatory, though there's a focus on geolocation and the like. The social map will show you friends who are nearby, and if possible, what they're doing. That's the hook for you to go hang out without prompting, and/or to crash someone's bar crawl.

Foursquare's central check-in system is retained, and the app is pretty enough, with a clear layout and bright colors. Still, it's hard to see how useful this is unless your social circle is constantly within a mile or so of each other (college students, this is probably right up your alley). If your buddies are more spread out, or you live in a more sprawling city, I imagine existing SMS and social networks are still a better option for you.

Swarm is free for Android Gingerbread and up, and there's an iOS client available as well.

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • Andrew

    So far with Swarm it seems like there are no more badges, points, or ability to check in with friends? I'm not a fan of this latest move by foursquare.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ninjustin ninjustin

      It seems that they want to you use both apps. That seems well redundant.

      • ddpacino

        Not quite so. The social/checkin stuff is being ripped out into its own app, and the current 4sq app will get its own update soon.

    • http://twitter.com/radko93 Radek

      To check in with a friend just enter his name and choose from the list that will appear :)

  • Adithya Pc

    Wow. The devs were so lazy to take screenshots from an Android device.
    The keyboard minimize button is visible when theres no keyboard and the clock looks wrong too. This is just shameful.

  • http://robert.aitchison.org raitchison

    Long time 4sq user, these changes, if they stick to them take away almost every reason I use the service.

    I'm continuing on like I always have, I switched from the native app years ago because they made it too difficult & time consuming to actually check in. I now use Simple Checkin which is fast & easy but if/when that stops working I'll just stop using Foursquare.

    • mickey4mice

      Simple is great, I don't care where my friends are, all I use 4squre for is to keep track of where I've been and automatically log them in google sheets via ifttt. I really hope they don't change API breaking 3rd party access.

  • Francisco Franco

    We're already doing this Swarm stuff with FacesIn... https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wizi.facesin

    It's a shame a company that big doesn't build an app following Android UI guidelines... look at that ActionBar craziness...

    • xspirits

      "Were" doing, because I bet swarm will greatly benefit from the foursquare user base.

    • miri

      While their action bar solution is a touch odd, it follows the guidelines just fine. If anything, the reason for the odd handling of the action bar it because they follow the guidelines.

  • bprichard

    I'm skeptical about this at the moment. I live in a country with not particularly many Foursquare users, but I imagine that if I lived in a city full of Foursquare users (and assuming I can make friends with them), I think I'd have the neighborhood thing turned off all the time.

    I don't think I want to hang with generic "friends". I want to hang out with Little Mookie, Big Al or Lorraine.

    So far, I'm not seeing any benefits to there being two apps. I'm sure they have a bigger strategy at play, but from a user perspective, I'm not seeing it right now.

  • Harold J Thomas

    I don't know what the logistics are behind the scenes as far as badges are concerned, but they were 90% of the reason I even used the app. They are small rewards for trying new places and travelling to new cities, which I enjoy doing. Can't see the point of continued use of the app(s), if all badges have indeed been retired.