Friday, August 8, 2014

New Foursquare – The Reviews Are Mixed

The Tastes feature of the new Foursquare 

The new Foursquare arrived this week – splitting off the Swarm social check-in app for good and offering Foursquare users a much more robust recommendation app for anything its users are likely to want to do. 

The new Foursquare logo and its pink color scheme
The new logo
Foursquare now has a pink logo and a pink-and-blue color palette (perfect for a newborn) and will offer recommendations based on Foursquare's database of 10,000 tastes, which cover qualities like food served, ambience, and activity type that Foursquare has gleaned from all the user tips that it has stockpiled over the years.

So what are people saying about this new Foursquare? Not all the first impressions are glowing. A round up:

In "This Is The New Foursquare" on TechCrunch Jordan Crook (@jordanrcrook) says: "Everyone, please meet the new Foursquare, a recommendations app that has nothing to do with location sharing and everything to do with smacking down Yelp using the force of a thousand suns.

"The author is impressed by the new version saying: "… using the new Foursquare instead of Yelp for the past few days has felt like upgrading from a BlackBerry Bold to an iPhone 5s."

In a piece called "The New Foursquare Is Here, and It's Surprisingly Good" author Pete Pachal (@petepachal), Tech Editor at Mashable, says "The check-in is dead." He asks rhetorically where that leaves Foursquare before answering his own question:

"As one of the best city guides you can get on a smartphone, actually, with a fully revamped user experience that puts some of the 5-year-old company's best information front and center.

"Foursquare 8.0 is a big step forward for the app, but it's far from perfect, and longtime users may not have the patience to discover its charms," Pachal says.

On Wired the spin is "Radical New Foursquare App Thinks You Want Even Less Privacy." Senior Writer Ryan Tate (@ryantate) says the new version is "… keeping tabs on you at all times, sending your location back to Foursquare’s servers, which then push recommendations back to your smartphone, suggesting restaurants and stores to visit—and stuff to order and buy once you get there."

He quotes Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley: "To actually get an app to talk to you like a friend would talk to you. That’s what we’re going at here, and I think we’ve done a really good job of it."

But Tate thinks users' privacy concerns may be a big problem for the new Foursquare: "The data you share with Foursquare today could conceivably end up in the hands of the NSA, hackers, or private data brokers tomorrow."

"Foursquare kills off the 'social media' pretense of data collection" trumpeted Ars Technica over a story by Casey Johnston (@caseyjohnston). The report notes: "Perhaps the most surprising thing about the app is how little you can interact with it for something that is (or will become) so personalized." 

"The tip-leaving interface is essentially a one-directional version of Twitter, and there are no options to toggle location-based services," Johnston notes.

"Fortunately, Foursquare doesn't publicly share any of a user's location information unless it's in aggregate. Users can follow each other, but the only content they see is each other's tips," she says.

"This is the cleverest portion of the service's revamp: make customers feel like they are sharing nothing, when in reality they are sharing everything."

And what did Foursquare itself have to say about the launch? It seemed very pleased. In a blog post Thursday it noted that "... tastes are already one of the most popular features. In the last 18 hours, you have already added 15 million tastes to profiles globally."

The post concludes with: "With the all-new Foursquare, you don’t have to know what you want. Just say, 'where should I go to lunch?' The app knows what you like. Let it lead you to places you’ll love."

So what do you think of the new Foursquare? Will it replace Yelp? And will you use Swarm for check-ins?

Related post:
9 Ways to Maintain (Some) Privacy on Social Media, the Web