Foursquare’s new app, Swarm, was released on Thursday. The Swarm app chisels off the check-in and proximity features of the main app and places them in a sparse, focus-driven new home.
Swarm is constantly pinging your location even when you don’t have the app open giving the ability to tell your friends what you’re up to at a neighborhood level location. This is very much the bones of the ‘check-in’ aspects of Foursquare, writ bold and bright across a small set of features that centers around a chart that shows you how close your friends are to you right now on a scale from ‘right here’ at 500 feet to ‘in the area’ of 20 miles. Swarm is about serendipitous meet ups via passive or explicit location sharing coupled with a planning feature that lets you create gatherings using Foursquare’s friend network and database of places.
It will be interesting to see if Foursquare will be able to gain confidence in location to the near-perfect point, and if so it could even offer quiet, automatic check-ins to specific places, not just neighborhoods. And once that happens users will get all of the benefits of checking in (logging, diary, a friendly digital wave to your friends) without having to actively remember to do it.
Why It’s Hot
There’s a fundamental shift in the way that we use apps underway, and the symptoms are all over the map. From a deeper, more thoughtful approach to push notifications to the breaking apart of large, unwieldy apps into smaller more focused components – apps are evolving with the user. What makes Swarm significant is the underlying mechanics of the possibility of transforming the check-in from an action specifically taken by a user to a passive update. Every app has been fighting to be on a user’s home screen, but Swarm’s success could lead a trend in apps that don’t need to be on a user’s home screen to add value, they don’t even need to be open.