Foursquare updated ahead of Swarm app launch

Swarm 1.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 002)Swarm 1.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 001)

Foursquare, the popular location-based social platform, is set to release a brand new Swarm app today which will “help people keep up and meet up with their friends”.

As a result, the existing free iOS client has just been updated with some changes you should know about. Announced two weeks ago, Swarm combines new mayorships, introduces stickers, offers detailed insights about your life and much more.

If you have Swarm installed, the new Foursquare 7.0.8 update includes a peek at some of the upcoming changes to Foursquare ahead of a major search-focused revamp due this summer…

iTunes release notes for Foursquare 7.0.8 mention no other changes aside from the aforementioned “upcoming changes to Foursquare” ahead of Swarm launch. If you haven’t installed Swarm yet, this Foursquare update will not detail the changes.

Specifically, there are no more ousting of mayors in the Foursquare app although it will continue to show the mayor as of today, frozen in place. Your profile will still display the list of proud mayorships you hold but, again, ousting of mayors will no longer be possible.

Swarm introduces a Mayors 2.0 feature based on the same 60-day historical window like the Foursquare app. If you’re mayor of a place where you and your friends go now, you’ll also be mayor amongst your friends in the Swarm app. As for your earned badges, they’re still available in your Foursquare trophy case.

The Swarm app is depicted on the screenshots throughout this article.

In a nutshell, Foursquare wants its main mobile app to focus on check-ins minus the gamification that has often been associated with the software. “We never set out to make a ‘game’,” a blog post says. “We wanted to make people’s experiences more fun and playful.”

Now that Foursquare is 50 million users strong, the team is moving these gamified features such us points (a measure of how exciting your outings were), badges (a sense of accomplishment) and mayorships (competing with your friends) to a dedicated Swarm app.

The app focuses on your nearby friends so there’s no invite list and you can “leave it as open-ended as you want.” The app centers around your activities, visible to all your friends in your city.

Speaking of which, your friends in Swarm can see if you’re in their neighborhood and how close you are. To enable or disable this neighborhood sharing feature, simply swipe right at the top of any screen, like this.

Swarm 1.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 003)

Another powerful Swarm feature: location history search.

When you tap over to your profile, the search field pops up allowing you to search for just about anything, be it a city, a person or a type of place – Swarm will analyze your old check-ins to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Swarm highlights:

Insights about your life
You guys have told us you love the little nuggets of insight we serve up after each check-in, like “Your 4th week in a row at your gym,” or “Your first time hanging out with Jason in 3 months.” These will continue to be an important part of Swarm.

In the new Swarm, we built a bunch of stickers you can attach to your check-ins to quickly express how you feel or what you’re doing. (Don’t worry, they’re all free!) We’ll give you a few to start off with and, as you go out and explore the world, you’ll unlock more based on the places you visit. (Hint: try checking in at lots of different types of places to unlock new ones!)

Mayors 2.0
We wanted to get back to a fun way to compete with your friends instead of all 50,000,000 people who are on Foursquare. With these new mayorships, if you and a couple friends have been checking in to a place, the person who has been there the most lately gets a crown sticker.

So you and your friends can compete for the mayorship of your favorite bar, without having to worry about the guy who is there every. single. day. Mayors 2.0 means that places can have many different mayors, one for each circle of friends, instead of just a single mayor at each place.

New kinds of badges
In the new Foursquare (coming this summer), we’ve also built the spiritual successor to badges. Badges were always meant to recognize and reward people who would seek out and find awesome things in the real world, and we found a great new way to do that.

Swarm 1.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 004)

More about the Swarm app can be found at the official website.

The decision to create Swarm while rethinking the main Foursquare app may have had something to do with heightened competition in this space.

Although Microsoft recently bought a stake in Foursquare worth fifteen million dollars, the startup is about to lose an important client as Facebook-owned Instagram has been testing location integration with Facebook Places.

Therefore, Foursquare will lose (or already has lost) a significant revenue stream as Instagram stops using its location services. Curiously enough, Microsoft is also a minority investor in Facebook and is its search provider.

Foursquare’s bet here is that the new Swarm app will boost engagement by focusing on gamification because people love to brag about their achievements. The good news is that Foursquare’s main database of check-ins remains unmatched by rivals (Facebook Places is a joke).

At any rate, it’ll be fun seeing how things unfold for Foursquare.

Download Foursquare for free from the App Store.

The app is universal and iOS 7.0 or later is required.