Today saw the launch of Foursquare’s new check-in-focused app, Swarm, which breaks the real-time social features out of Foursquare and into a separate app. As our in-depth review explains, almost every feature has made the jump. You can see where your friends are, there’s a modified version of mayorships and while badges aren’t included, there are stickers that serve a similar(-ish) purpose.
Points as a ‘reward’ for checking in, however, are completely gone. Here’s what they used to look like:
Foursquare clearly had its reasons for this omission. In a blog post last week, it noted that over time, points had become “arbitrary and less reflective of real-world achievement, because a check-in at a concert in Istanbul is really different than one at a dog park in New York.” That’s true – points never really made much sense – but so what? They were fun.
It was a good feeling to get points for going about your daily life. Take a look at the two screenshots below – one from Foursquare (with points) and one from Swarm (without).
As you can see, Swarm still has the ‘fun facts’ about check-ins, but it lacks the points and the leaderboard. As silly as it sounds, my day used to be led (to an extent) by those points and they encouraged me to explore.
I’d ask myself questions like, “should I go to my regular supermarket and get one point for the checkin or walk half a mile and get five points for checking in somewhere new?” Visiting new locations, trying new types of restaurant, checking in with new friends… these activities and more led you to move up the leaderboard as you clocked up higher scores.
Sure, I wasn’t really ‘competing’ with my friends in any meaningful way, but it still meant something to me. When you get a PlayStation Trophy or Xbox Achievement for a completing a relatively minor task in a game, it feels good and keeps you playing. Receiving Foursquare points was similar to that, and made for a kind of ‘quantified self’ measurement of how interesting a week I was having.
I’ll certainly be using the new app as much as I did Foursquare for the time being, but I don’t expect to get quite the same ‘buzz’ from Swarm.