What on Earth Have They Done to Foursquare?!!

Foursquare & Swarm Logos

I’m a big fan of the location-based app Foursquare, or at least I was. I never really cared much for its social media aspects—the leaderboards, the mayorships and all that. So I should be thrilled that the developers decided to break out the social stuff and move it to a new app called Swarm, repurposing Foursquare proper as a recommendation engine to more effectively compete with the likes of Yelp.

Instead, they’ve very nearly ruined the experience for me. What’s worse, in a little test I did last weekend, the new Foursquare app doesn’t even work.

Foursquare Calendar

This is how I use Foursquare—to time-stamp my visits to restaurants, hotels and airports around the world. Thankfully the developers have made this easy with a number of data portability options. If you’re also a Foursquare user you can see them for yourself by logging into your account on a desktop browser and visiting your feeds page at this link:


I’ve chosen to add my check-ins to Google Calendar, but you can also export that same data to an RSS feed and/or a Google Earth .kml file.

Foursquare Tastes

Here’s the first thing you’ll see when you launch the new Foursquare app. Before anything else you’re asked to select a bunch of “tastes” so that Foursquare can better serve you with recommendations for restaurants, etc. Forums user Sabesh tells me that if you do this correctly then the app will notify you of suitable places to eat once you get near them. I decided to put this to an informal test.

You’ll notice that my tastes entered above skew heavily towards pancakes at an American-style diner. Here’s why:

Foursquare Galaxie Diner

My girlfriend and I made plans last Saturday to visit the Galaxie Diner in Vaughan, Ontario. If the new Foursquare was to work as advertised, I would get a pop-up notification on my phone that the establishment was nearby.

Foursquare Nada

And here’s my notification screen, grabbed inside said diner after we had sat down. Nada.

Foursquare Saved

I decided to give Foursquare a hand by using the “save” function on the app. Surely that would help.

Foursquare Still Nada

Nope. Here’s my notification screen again, right after we ordered our food.

Foursquare Swarm App

Even if the diner had popped up in Foursquare I would still have to launch Swarm separately and check in there. Here’s what that would look like—now with added food emoji, for some reason…

Foursquare Simple Checkin

Instead I used Simple, a third-party Android app which gives me the check-in functionality I want and nothing more. I suppose that I could still use the new Foursquare to manually search for recommendations and reviews, but I’ve chosen not to out of spite. Maybe I’ll try Yelp instead. I wonder what the Foursquare team would think of that?