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App Review: Foursquare for Android

Foursquare is a location-based application that's available for Android, iPhone, Palm, and BlackBerry. Many of you are probably already familiar with it or, at least, have seen people showing you their location on your Twitter and Facebook pages. Foursquare serves both a social broadcasting and a business promotion purpose. For those who just want to let their friends in the electronic world know where they are, what they are doing, and how they feel about it, Foursquare is a great application. For businesses, it creates a new medium to spread the word about your products and services, specifically if you have a fixed location.

Setup in the Foursquare application is pretty straightforward. When you first open the app, it brings you to a home screen with three tabs: Friends, Places, and Me.

The Friends tab allows you to see where people you have connected with on Foursquare have most recently checked in. By touching any of these friends, you are instantly able to view their info, which includes where they were last seen and various options that they control so that you can communicate directly with them via SMS, email, Twitter, or phone. In my experience with using these contact methods, you are likely to find that many folks aren't even aware that their information is out there on this application for the world to see. That being said, it is up to you to go to your homepage through the Web browser (not the application on your phone) and edit your privacy settings.

The second tab is Places, which uses your phone's GPS to locate venues, created by other users, that are closest to you. At this time, unless you are in a major metropolitan area, you can still come across places that you'll have to add to the Foursquare venue database. You do so by touching Menu while on the Places tab. You will see an icon that says "Add Venue." Touch this icon, and you will be prompted to enter some information about the location that you are adding.

Finally you have the Me tab. This tab shows your check-in history at a glance; it lists the venues that you have become Mayor of, and it shows badges that you have achieved (based on your check-in patterns). Only recently did I achieve the elusive Swarm badge, while attending a Phish concert at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Noblesville, Indiana. Many Social Media Clubs have been attempting to gather fellow Foursquare users in single locations with the idea to unleash the swarm as well.

Foursquare also has an integrated feature that allows you to post your check-in to your Facebook and Twitter pages. I urge you to use this one with caution, though; there are times when you may want to keep your location to yourself. However, there's no denying that we live in an era where people are gladly turning over their location, as well as intimate details about their personal lives, in order to feel more connected to the rest of the world. It's only a matter of time before we see our first Foursquare stalking story in the news.

The most current version of the Foursquare application (as of this writing) was v2010-08-05. In this release, changes included the ability to click on the Me tab and set a new photo for yourself directly from the application. Also, in the previous versions there was no option for viewing other users' photos through the application itself. Your phone's photo viewing program was used instead.

A common problem with this application (as well as with other GPS-run apps) is that your phone often has to be in view of the sky to be accurately located on the network. My wife is constantly annoyed by me standing outside of a venue with my phone out, trying to locate the venue on Foursquare so that I can check in. Still, Foursquare is on the verge of breaking out like Twitter did a few years back, so look for your friends' Tweets and Facebook status updates to view their check-ins!

Tags: android, androidapps, app review, AppReview, foursquare, motodroid



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