Foursquare Swarm is a mobile app that allows users to share their locations with their friends and create a record of their experiences in their personal lifelog. Swarm for iOS and Android devices launched on May 15, 2014. A spin-off from and companion app to Foursquare City Guide, Swarm allows users to check-in to a given location, and see who is nearby. These check-ins are chronologically listed to create a personal lifelog for each user, which serves as a digital library for all the places they’ve been, in a searchable database that can be revisited and shared.
|Initial release||May 5, 2014|
|Available in||12 languages|
|Type||Social networking service|
Location and check-in data collected in Swarm are used to improve a user's recommendations in Foursquare City Guide. Splitting check-ins and general location sharing in to the separate Swarm app was designed to let the main Foursquare app focus on exploring and discovering information on locations, in a Yelp-like fashion. Swarm supports checking in with photos or stickers attached to it, and allows broadcasting of check-ins to other networks including Facebook and Twitter. Swarm features include a shareable and interactive personalized map, and unique stats like total lifetime check-ins, number of unique categories visited, and data on streaks and mayorships.
Swarm 5.0, released on iOS August, 8 2017 and on Android August 16, 2017, was the most significant update to the app’s core functionality since launching in 2014, focusing more on lifelogging.
If a user wants to share their location, they can "Check In" to a specific venue and this location will be shared with their friends. Users can write a message with their check-in and mention (or check in) their friends at the venue with them. It is also possible to include a photo, as well as cross-posting the check-in to Twitter and Facebook.
A user's location is never shared publicly - it is only ever shared with their friends in Swarm, unless they specifically choose to share their check-in to Facebook or Twitter.
In 2016, Swarm added a feature that allowed users to check in to a location without sharing the location with their friends. These check ins were called “off-the-grid” and would show up in their history, but won’t be visible to their friends when they view their page.
Each time a user checks in, a pin is dropped on their interactive personal check-in map. This map is meant to serve as a visual representation of everywhere they've been.
Swarm introduced in 2014 a new feature called Plans that let users send out a group message which is then seen by all their friends that are nearby. Its purpose was to facilitate group meetups. In 2015 this feature was replaced with private Messaging. Messages allow users to send direct and group messages, but no longer broadcast their location on a neighborhood level.
Users can attach a single sticker to any check-in to quickly express how they feel or what they are doing. Unlock instructions for new stickers are often not provided in the app itself 'to keep stickers a surprise'.
There are 100 Collectible Stickers in addition to special Bonus Stickers that can be unlocked. For example, the Newbie sticker can be unlocked after a user's first check-in and the Explorer sticker after fifty check-ins. Other ways to unlock collectible stickers include tagging friends, using key phrases in checkins (such as "Congratulations" or "Happy Birthday'") and more.
Aside from the 100 Collectible stickers, over 100 Bonus stickers have been released to celebrate various occasions and miscellany. Many sticker releases coincide with holidays, world events, or particular achievements.
The "Superuser" sticker is only available to Superusers.
For a time, there were 25 golden stickers. Users who had the most check-ins against their friends at a certain category were awarded this sticker.
Swarm 5.0 introduced 52 new stickers and “Collectible Categories.” There are 100 stickers that each coincide with a popular category, such as Diner, Bowling Alley, and Pizza Place. Users can upgrade stickers to earn 2x and 3x coin multipliers by continuing to check in to those 100 collectible categories.
Released in 2016, Swarm Challenges encourage users to check in to specific venue types, a certain number of times within a specific date range, to be entered to win prizes. For example, the first Swarm Challenge was the Summer Kickoff, requiring users to check into 3 summer spots (beaches, parks, trails, etc) to be entered to win $10,000 towards a dream vacation. Swarm Challenges were only available to residents of the United States.
Located in the stickers tab, Memory Lane displays every badge unlocked in classic Foursquare.
The user who checks in at a venue more than any other over a 30-day period is awarded the title of "Mayor". This is similar to the game mechanic found in classic Foursquare. When Swarm launched in May 2014, Foursquare's public Mayorships were all lost. Instead of competing with everyone on the service to become "Mayor" of a venue, users now competed with their friends only. Mayors 2.0 meant that venues could have many different mayors, one for each circle of friends, instead of just a single mayor at each place. In July 2015, responding to negative feedback, Mayors 2.0 were retired, and Swarm introduced the current Mayorship game, that more closely resemble the one in classic Foursquare.
Swarm lets a user search their past check-ins and reflect on where they've been and what they've done. Users are able to search their check-ins by friends they checked in with, city, category, or even the type of places they've been (such as Mexican Restaurant, Park, etc.).
Users who publicize impressive achievements in the app via social media may be sent an exclusive pack by Swarm containing branded stationery and physical stickers.
CNET described the app as a "bold move", and praised it for removing some of the "clutter" of Foursquare and focusing on letting the user "quickly see where your friends are and make plans". The redesign was unpopular with some existing Foursquare users, who complained about its lack of gamification elements, and the need to download two apps for what used to be contained in a single Foursquare app.
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Foursquare is calling Swarm’s latest incarnation the “lifelog,” and it’s meant to offer a new way of thinking about the trademark check-in process that’s less about gamification and leaderboards and more personal. With younger smartphone users gravitating toward text, photos, and videos that disappear — and the more raw and genuine style of sharing that allows — Foursquare now wants to create a space where you can plant a virtual flag, to come back to a memory and savor it later on in life.
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