Foursquare adds ‘newsfeed’ feature to be more like Facebook

by Phil Hornshaw

Location-based social networking service Foursquare has rolled out a big new update, adding a newsfeed-like feature that makes the app a great deal more social.

Previously, Foursquare included social networking features like the ability to comment on other users’ check-ins, but it didn’t include a way of letting users know when someone else was interacting with them through the app. Unlike other social networks, such as Facebook, one would have to just drop into Foursquare occasionally to get that information, which meant there wasn’t a lot of incentive to spend time with the app unless the user was actively “checking in” to locations. Check-ins are Foursquare’s method of sharing a user’s current location with other, as well as comments about the location or the activity or event taking place there. The new feature notifies users of comments and check-ins as they happen, according to Mashable, which is not unlike the notifications issued by Facebook’s app for iPhone.

It’s a fundamental change to how Foursquare has previously worked. In the past, Foursquare was mostly about social networking on the move – you could see where your friends had recently checked in, for example, and you could check in at different places yourself in order to sometimes receive discounts from businesses or to just share your activities with others.

With Foursquare adding the newsfeed feature (which it calls its “notification tray”), users can see in real time where other people are checking in and what they’re saying to one another. Getting those updates on the fly could potentially give Foursquare new and different uses – instead of just sharing where one might be and what they might be doing, constant real-time updates could potentially help Foursquare users find new things to do as they’re happening. Or imagine checking into a restaurant and mentioning that you were about to order a dish, only to receive a notification from Foursquare that a friend had left you a comment warning against its spiciness.

The new features made their way to Foursquare’s Android app earlier this month, but just got pushed through for iOS users this week, and among some other improvements, Foursquare now lets users know when their Facebook friends join the location service.

Foursquare has continually made improvements to its mobile apps, which is good news to its 10 million users. While Facebook has already emulated Foursquare with its Places feature, the addition of Foursquare’s newsfeed-like feature brings it more in line with the social networking behemoth – and on more equal footing. As the service continues to grow, it’ll surely gather additional functionality.