Neil Turner's Blog

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Foursquare Thursday – August madness

20110825-081218.jpgIt’s been a while since I last posted about Foursquare, and a lot has happened. Foursquare has been busy rolling out new features, so I’m going to summarise what’s new. Most of these have cropped up in the past month.

Lists

You can now make lists of venues, such as your favourite museums, pub crawl routes, best places to go for a good burger, that kind of thing. Foursquare starts you off with three lists – venues you’ve added to your to-do list, tips you’ve ‘done’ and tips you’ve added yourself – but you can add more. It’ll even suggest some based on your checkin habits – it’s suggested food places in Leeds and Bradford for me.

Lists are public and show on your profile. You can also check out lists from Foursquare’s various partner brands like MTV (music video locations) and Time Out (the best burgers in New York).

Check-in to events

Foursquare now pulls data from external sources so that you can not only check into a venue, but check into an event at that venue. In the screenshot on the right is my local cinema, and Foursquare knows which two films are being shown there today. When you select ‘Check In Here’, it’ll ask you which film you want to check into – or whether you just want to check in to venue itself. Events listings appear in the iPhone app and on the web site, but haven’t yet been rolled out to the other mobile clients on Android, Blackberry and so on.

New mobile clients

Speaking of which… the iPhone client got a bit of an update recently. It’s now more blue with several screens re-designed, and it now looks a lot more professional than it did before. Another major change is that photos attached to checkins now show in the timeline on the friends page.

Android also received some attention to make it feel more like a native Android app and not a quickly-ported iPhone app, but it lags behind the iPhone app in terms of features. Similarly the Blackberry app now integrates with Blackberry Messenger and has been finally updated to version 3.0, with the Explore feature.

More brand pages

Foursquare has launched new brand pages, so it’s now much easier to create a brand presence on Foursquare. Pages are free to set up, but I gather there are still costs involved if you want a custom badge for your brand.

More badges

Speaking of badges… as usual, Foursquare has added more badges including a new ‘core’ badge – Baker’s Dozen, for 13 checkins at bakeries. You may want to head to Gregg’s for a sausage roll or 12! New partner badges have been introduced from ESPN, MTV and Pepsi, plus the badge for the upcoming film 30 Minutes or Less is now available globally and not just in the US.

Notifications

Back in July Foursquare introduced a notification ‘tray’ on its Android client and web site, which came to the iPhone a few weeks later (rare example of Foursquare offering something to Android users first!). There’s now an icon to the right of the Foursquare logo, which when clicked will inform you of new friend requests, when you’ve been ousted as a mayor, when a friend does one of your tips or comments on your checkins or when a venue you’ve previously checked into starts offering a special deal. It’s a bit like Facebook notifications. You can also control whether these do a push notification in the mobile apps.

Presidential Foursquaring

Barack Obama is touring the country, so you can now follow The White House on Foursquare. Of course, this probably has nothing to do with him running for re-election next year…

New categories

Foursquare has added a handful of new categories – Tennis stadiums, Military Bases, Car Rental counters for airports, apartments and neighbourhoods. A few existing categories, mainly related to food, now have new icons as well.

US Merge-a-thon

Foursquare used their computers to identify a whole host of potential duplicate venues, which were queued up for SU2s and SU3s to process – over 100,000 of them. As it happens, quite a few were not duplicates but hopefully it will result in a net improvement in the quality of Foursquare’s listings. All of the venues were in the US this time.

So, as you can see, a lot has happened on Foursquare over the past few weeks. Foursquare is still owned and run by its founders and hasn’t been absorbed as a subsidiary of a larger company, so it’s agile enough to be able to make major changes like this very quickly. And hopefully there will be more to come!

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