Foursquare has had the unique challenge of pivoting its check-in platform, once the social-location darling, into something that can compete on a larger scale. The check-in has become an exhausting process that users are running awy from, and Foursquare’s robust, feature-full relaunch in June was all about making its app a more seamless, frictionless experience. The update announced today adds a relatively minor tool that enables users to keep real-time check-in notifications on or off.
The feature is a simple on and off toggle that has been included on the profile pages of your friends where you can select “Nearby,” “Off,” and “Always On.” Selecting “Nearby” will notify you only of check-ins that your friends have entered near your current location. “Always On,” however, notifies you on your Foursquare newsfeed of your friend’s check-ins from all location. You can also turn off notifications from your friends entirely.
There’s more to this than meets the eye. Check-ins have more or less been declared a dying breed, and this has clearly made some trouble for Foursquare. The app has started focusing on making itself a hub for finding out what locations friends are frequenting and for recommending new restaurants or venues.
The latest update fits well into the scheme of Foursquare’s new strategy. All updates from your friends can be pushed to your newsfeed, should you choose to receive these notifications, and you can see exactly what they’re up to. It fuels the social strategy behind the company’s pivot. At the same time, the update compels users to engage with their friend’s updates, which is a boon to Foursquare and of course its advertisers. For example, by being able to view all of your friends’ check-ins you’re more inclined to discover new venues.
Given the heightened visibility to user location, there are bound to be new privacy concerns about how much information Foursquare is able to reveal. But realize that Foursquare isn’t among the so-called SoLoMo apps, like Glancee or Highlight, which are frictionless ambient social networks that will find anyone with the same app around you regardless of their affiliation with you. Once you’ve opened up Foursquare, you can decide to check-in to a location or choose not to do so.