Foursquare’s Swarm updates to be your life-logging app

Oh the places you'll go.
Image: foursquare screenshot

Foursquare was once believed to be the next big social app. On storefronts, business owners featured a Foursquare logo, next to Facebook and Twitter. People flocked to it to learn what their friends were up to.

But no longer. That’s not Foursquare’s main game anymore. Facebook, now valued at nearly $500 billion with 2 billion monthly active users, isn’t easy to compete with, and so, Foursquare is going with something different.

The 8-year-old app released Swarm 5.0 Tuesday, a version of the app that favors lifelogging over social networking. Now, Swarm sees its strength in personal data collection, more like Fitbit but tracking the places you visit over your steps.

Even Foursquare cofounder and executive chairman Dennis Crowley said he doesn’t use Foursquare’s Swarm for connecting with friends as much.

“There was a period of my life where all my social was done through Foursquare and Swarm and then people moved to coordinating things via Snapchat or Facebook Messenger or text messaging,” Crowley said. “What is the one thing that people love about Swarm that they don’t get anywhere else? Lifelogging.”

Swarm’s first screen now features a map at the front and center, where each dot is a place the user has checked in. It lists a user’s number of check-ins, places, and categories (how many out of 100). Below that is a timeline, listing chronologically where the user has most recently checked in.

“So much of social media these days is ephemeral.”

“So much of social media these days is ephemeral. I snap a photo, and it disappears. You’re capturing things, but you’re not doing anything with them,” Crowley said, referencing the disappearing nature of photos and videos on Snapchat and on Instagram Stories.

Users still have to check in to locations for the app to log the location.

“Every time you press the check-in button, a dot goes on the map,” Crowley said.

Swarm didn’t completely abandon social, however. A button on the bottom right corner directs users to their “Friend Feed.” A user can sort friends’ check-ins chronologically or by distance from their current location.

The app still includes a leaderboard, where users compete for most points from check-ins, and Foursquare mayorships are still around.

Foursquare doesn’t disclose its number of active users on individual apps. Crowley said it’s grown and has spread internationally. The company boasts 12 billion check-ins.

In addition to no longer competing against Facebook on the social front, Foursquare’s business is also not, for the most part, pulling from the same pool of advertising dollars.

Crowley and his team have narrowed in on enterprise, licensing its data and technology to other tech companies like Snapchat, Uber, and Samsung. It most recently announced partnerships with some of the biggest companies in Asia.

“Yelp continues to be the yellow pages, but we are crushing it on the data side,” Crowley said.

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