Foursquare splits in two – new Swarm app heralds next age of social

2 May 2014

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The check-in is dead. Foursquare, the company most synonymous with the “check-in”, is killing the “check-in”, dividing itself into two entities, and creating a second app called Swarm.

Swarm will help users to look and see what friends nearby are up to in real-time.

A new Foursquare app will be released in the coming weeks that will ditch the check-in in favour of providing local search and discovery.

Foursquare is following what appears to be a definitive trend amongst born-on-the-web and mobile-first players to split out apps with their own identity and purpose. Last month, Dropbox launched Carousel, a gallery feature for all a user's photos and videos. Facebook is separating its Messenger app as much as possible from its main Android and iOS app, and just this week Google split Docs, Sheets and Slides into individual productivity apps.

“We spend a lot of time talking to people about Foursquare, and we constantly hear they use Foursquare for two things – to keep up and meet up with their friends, and to discover great places,” explained Foursquare founder and CEO Dennis Crowley in the Foursquare blog.

“Every month, tens of millions of people open up the app to do each.

“But, as it turns out, each time you open the app, you almost always do just one of those things. At home, you may be searching for a place for dinner. After dinner, you are probably looking to see what friends nearby are up to. That’s why today, we’re announcing that we’re unbundling these two experiences into two separate apps – Foursquare, and a new app called Swarm.”

Crowley said Swarm was built because users still have to text friends “where are you” and “what are you up to later?”

“We wanted to build a quick way for you to know these two things for all of your friends. With Swarm, you can easily see which of your friends are out nearby, figure out who is up for grabbing a drink later, and share what you’re up to (faster and more easily than you can in Foursquare today)”

He said Swarm will be available on iOS and Android in the coming weeks, and soon after on Windows Phone.

Foursquare's transformation

Crowley said that in the coming weeks the main Foursquare app will go through a metamorphosis.

“Local search today is like the digital version of browsing through the Yellow Pages (remember those?). We believe local search should be personalised to your tastes and informed by the people you trust. The opinions of actual experts should matter, not just strangers.

“An app should be able answer questions like, ‘give me a great date dinner spot’ and not just ‘tell me the nearest gas station.’ We’re right now putting the final touches on this new, discovery-focused version of Foursquare. It’ll be polished and ready for you later this summer.”

The question now is, has Foursquare potentially jumped the gun or are its instincts correct? The answer will be seen in how many die-hard Foursquare users flock to Swarm or merely opt to check-out.

Foursquare image via Shutterstock

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com