According to Foursquare, tens of millions of people sign into the app every month to discover great places and to keep up and meet up with their friends. Since the users open the app each time to do just one of these things, Foursquare has decided to unbundle these experiences into two separate apps, a discovery-focused version of Foursquare and a new mobile app, Swarm for just check-ins. Though it is not clear whether Foursquare will remove check-ins from their app altogether, it is confirmed that the check-ins and badges will be moved to Swarm.
Announcing the decision to split its capabilities in their blog post, the location-based social media site for mobile devices stated that the app is also going through a metamorphosis and will place more focus on local search. They think local search needs to be personalized to users’ tastes and informed by whom the users trust. The views of experts matter, not just strangers’ opinions. The app should have the capability to inform the user about ‘a great dinner spot’ rather than just the ‘nearest gas station’. Foursquare hopes to launch this discovery-focused version later this summer.
With Swarm, Foursquare intends to provide users with a quick way to know where their friends are and what they are up to and to share what they (users) are up to. A report in The Verge quotes Foursquare’s VP of product management Noah Weiss as saying that Swarm is using passive location-sharing in a way people actually want. People don’t want to be precision-pointed (with latitude and longitude) on a map. Instead, they want friends to be aware of where they are through constant contact. When you can check in with Swarm, it passively notes down your general location even if you don’t open it. When the app understands you are in a new neighborhood, it updates your status accordingly. Those who download the app are making the decision to share this type of data with a specific set of friends. The app will be available on iOS and Android first and later on Windows. You can sign up at swarmapp.com to receive the email when the app is ready.
The report also says mobile usage is the major impetus behind this switch. According to Jon Steinback, Foursquare’s VP of product experience, as mobile usage evolved the users got individual experiences. Apps are opened to perform a specific task, and not for a large complicated experience. In this context, having a check-in button as the main interface whenever the user opened the app was a barrier to better engagement. Splitting Foursquare into two apps will tell the big audience that they don’t have to check in to make the most of Foursquare.
When testing the new functionalities, it was found that unbundling made both the experiences on Foursquare more focused and more efficient. Even if the sessions were shorter, they were more frequent. It is possible for Foursquare to shuttle users back and forth between the two apps easily by using some simple hooks in iOS and Android. It is evident that FourSquare’s efforts to enhance the local search experience will have important implications for local SEO and mobile SEO.