Foursquare is the leader in the location based sharing services for mobile phones. Foursquare at its heart is a competitive location sharing game, but it become much more then a game once you learn all its ins and outs.
How Foursquare works is once you have an account and download the application you just go about your normal daily activities. The only difference now is when ever you go come place like a park, the super market your favorite restaurant you now “check in” via the mobile application.
It takes a little getting used to, remembering to check in to every place you go but it will eventually become habit and second nature you wont even think about it as you pull out your phone and check in. Checking in is easy and not to much of a hassle, you simply pull out your phone and open the Foursquare app. Once the app opens you will see on the “places” tab a lit of all the places near you and how far you are from each. The app uses your phones gps to find your location and display the locations around you. To check in you simply look through this list which is organized by closest places, therefore the place you are at should be at the top. If your gps on your phone is not perfect and you do not see your location you can search it by typing in its name. Once you find the location in your app you simply click the big green “check in” button and you are checked into the place. I just used a lot of words to describe a quick and simple process of checking in, so if all I typed sounds complicated do not worry and try it out for yourself. I promise it is very easy.
So why should you check in, and why should you use Foursquare? Well first off at the very least Foursquare is a game. If your Friends also have Foursquare accounts you can become their friends in Foursquare and compete each week. Its pretty simple how the game aspect works, you get points for checking in and bonuses for checking into multiple places in one day. The points get reset every Sunday at midnight so if your have a busy work week you can try to win the week after when your less busy to beat your friends in friendly competition.
In all honesty the game aspect of Foursquare is a super small part of Foursquare. Foursquare has a lot more features that are more useful then fulfilling the competitive nature of human beings. For instance “tips” is an extremely useful feature that is what you first see when you click on a place to “check in”. Tips are exactly what they sound like, tips left my other Foursquare users who have checked into the same place you are at. Tips can be anything from a recommendation of what to order at a restaurant or good times to go when places are less crowded. For example one of the tips for the South Street Seaport in New York City is that a free ferry to Ikea leaves from there. So tips can be very useful, and I love reading them after I check into a place.
The friend aspect of Foursquare is not just for competing with each other. Friends also allows you to control who you share your location with. For your friends you can set “pings” which will vibrate your phone and let you know when a friend checks in near you, so you can easily get together with your friends. The friends feature is more then just a game and will actually help bring you and your friends together.
Not only is Foursquare great for checking into and sharing your location with your friends but also for finding hot places to go. If your new to a city or just want to find a new place to explore in your city Foursquare on the places tab in their application shoes trending now places. The trending places works by showing places at the top of your places tab which a lot of foursquare users have been recently checking into. This is a really useful and neat feature to see whats happening around you. I recently used this feature in New York City and loved how in the morning the trending feature showed all popular cafes and breakfast places to go to, and then how at night the trending places would change and show all the popular bars and clubs Foursquare users were checking into.
Lastly Foursquare can save you money and earn you cool rewards. Back to the game aspect of Foursquare if you are the person with the most check ins at a location you become the “Mayor” meaning you are that places most loyal visitor. Most places being the “Mayor” is just bragging rights but now that Foursquare has been catching on you can now get perks at a lot of places if you show them you are the “Mayor”. For example some specials that I saw in New York City for Foursquare Mayors of different bars were, one free drink, and happy hour prices all day. These are just a few of the specials I saw. I know in New Jersey there is a Houlihans (which is a chain) that offers a discount of 20% off an entry to anyone that just checks into their restaurant, so you do not even need to be a “Mayor’ to get rewards and discounts!
Not only can you get real rewards that save you money but Foursquare offers “badges” that you can recieve just for bragging rights for checking into different things. Badges often need some figure out to unlock but are so exciting when you get them, you will quickly become obsessed with unlocking badges and will be googling to try and find ways to unlock more and more badges.
If you are still reading this article, stop and go give Foursquare a try I promise you will not regret it and I apologise for how addicted you will become to it!