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Posted at 11:31 AM ET, 12/20/2010

Foursquare iPhone update adds comments, photos features

By Rob Pegoraro

Foursquare looks a little bit more like Facebook with this morning's update to its iPhone application. The New York-based service now allows users of Apple's smartphone to post photos when they check into establishments and to comment on the check-ins of other Foursquare-using friends.


A blog post says Foursquare users have been "requesting these features for months" and suggests ways they could improve the experience:

Comments make meeting up and exploring so much easier. Improve your day by telling a friend that you're around the corner and they should swing by.
Tips with photos changes everything. See dishes before ordering them, figure out if a venue looks fun, or easily identify a hard-to-find spot. More info = better exploration.

Foursquare's post says it will announce its updated Android application this week. Similar upgrades for its Palm webOS and BlackBerry apps are due in January. The rest of its major platforms -- Nokia's Symbian and Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, said product manager Alex Rainert in a phone interview --should come early next year. (Foursquare relies on outside developers for its Palm, Symbian and Windows Phone releases.)

Comments and check-in photos are visible to other Foursquare friends. Photos taken of a venue or paired with a tip shared on the site are public. You can also post photos taken with Instagram and other photo-sharing apps. I haven't yet tried that app or other competing "tell your story through phone pictures" services such as Path.

In adding these interactive features, Foursquare invites a different usage model. Users will likely spend more time tuned into Foursquare's mobile applications or Web site -- posting or checking comments and photos -- instead of logging in only when they're at a place worthy of announcing their presence to pals.

"It's... giving people more reasons to hop in and out of the app," said Rainert. "We might see more activity on the Web site now."

That's a perfectly understandable goal for Foursquare, but its users may have different opinions. We already have a variety of sites through which we can register our presence at an establishment in return for possible discounts or freebies--Facebook added its own Deals feature to its new check-in feature in November, and Yelp launched its Check-in Offers last month.

One thing I have liked about Foursquare compared with, say, Facebook, is its minimal maintenance needs (which may make up for the fact that I've yet to get anything for free in all of my use of the service, though I am closing in on a free cupcake at a neighborhood bakery). Do I want to put that much more time into it?

The photos and comments features also build out what Rainert called Foursquare's "social diary aspect": its ability to generate a detailed record of your outings over time. Like Facebook's recent, welcome option to download all of the data you and friends have posted to your profile, I suspect it will invite a different, more accountable sort of memoir writing in coming years.

What would you want out of a check-in service? A freebie down the line, a chance to connect with friends you didn't know were near, a record of what you did that day, an outlet for your short-form writing skills, or some combination of all of the above?

By Rob Pegoraro  | December 20, 2010; 11:31 AM ET
Categories:  Location awareness, Mobile, Social media  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Online sales, smartphone use up in 2010 holiday season
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These things seem neat for certain groups, but to me it borders on the creepy as well as annoying.

I just don't want to be THAT connected to everyone which is easy to do - I don't sign up. But it gets old to have everyone pester you to join Facebook, then in their next breath they complain how their account was hacked.

I'll stick with email.

Posted by: asdf9876 | December 20, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

What is the point of all this gadgetry anyway? I was forced to get into Facebook by relatives. Now I'm bombarded with messages such as "I just got up" and "I just got home." I'm also getting messages such as "Jack bookmarked Multi-Threading in JavaScript (HTML 5) | datispars blog" and "Jack and Jill are now connected". Do I need to know any of this?

Posted by: MrBethesda | December 20, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

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