Did Foursquare just add a real-time activity stream to its iPhone app?

Did Foursquare just add a real-time activity stream to its iPhone app?

After rolling out version 2.0 of its iOS app only a couple of weeks ago, Foursquare updated the app to version 2.1 today, with a very curious changelog update:

“Now when you receive pings from your friends while foursquare is open, the Friends tab shows you a running count of the fresh check-ins, so you’ll always know things are happening.

This release also includes numerous stability and performance improvements, plus extended support for external applications linking to pages inside foursquare.”

Now that is some interesting – though certainly oblique – stuff, especially these two parts: “a running count of the fresh check-ins” and “extended support for external applications linking to pages inside foursquare.”

So what do these mean? Well, the first part would seem to be a beginning of a mobile-based real-time activity stream for Foursquare. Is there really any other way to look at it? That is, if it works the way we think it will work…we just kept the Friends tab open for about 15 minutes after we updated, and well, nothing noticeably happened.

Two friends checked in during that time (even with 200 friends, but yeah, it’s Monday night), but we’re not sure if we received a “ping” or not, but we’re guessing that “ping” in this sense just means “friend check-in”. At any rate, we were expecting to see a big red number and/or a self-refreshing check-in stream, but neither seems to be the case – again, unless we’re missing something.

But none of that matters – what matters is the intent. If Foursquare is intending to launch real-time friend check-in streams starting with the iPhone app, that could be an interesting development. In third party apps like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, it’s certainly easy to follow the stream of what your friends are doing, but on the mobile interface this generally requires a lot of refreshing and/or paying attention to notifications. Well, if we’re reading that sentence above correctly, this could be a Foursquare’s answer to this on the mobile. Or maybe not. It would seem to us that unless you have a few thousand friends (in a walking-centric city especially) staring at your iPhone might not be all that productive. Or maybe it would.

Regarding the “external applications linking to pages inside Foursquare” – could this have something to do with the “Add to my Foursquare” button or is this just an enhancement for third-party apps using the Foursquare API? We’ll send Foursquare email asking for comment on this post to see if we can clarify both points.

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