This week we met with Foursquare’s Head of Product, Alex Rainert. We mostly asked questions about the company’s incredibly social founder, Dennis Crowley, with whom Rainert founded Dodgeball in 2005.
But we couldn’t help ourselves from asking a few questions about the company.
“Where the heck is the auto checkin?” we wanted to know. Three years later, using Foursquare is still a hassle. You have to remember to take out your phone, search for a location (without much accuracy) and then confirm.
The process takes a few minutes and we’d bet it keeps Foursquare from turning a significant amount of its 15 million downloaders into active users with daily checkins.
Rainert assured us auto checkins are on the way. “Part of the hold up has been technical restraints, and some of it has been design,” says Rainert. He says Radar is just the beginning of Foursquare’s auto checkin initiative.
Radar is a Foursquare feature that launched a few months ago. It sends notifications whenever a user walks near a venue with a deal. Foursquare is working to broaden that technology to the entire check-in process. Eventually, Foursquare will ask you if you want to check in somewhere rather than making the user remember on his or her own.
It is also working to better predict where you’re most likely to checkin. For example, if you work at Business Insider, there’s a good chance you’ll be in the office Monday through Friday. Foursquare should, and will eventually be able to, assume you’re at Business Insider and ask for confirmation.
Foursquare, Rainert says, has always carefully weighed “opt-in-ness” and that’s something they need to figure out with auto checkins. Users will never be forced to automatically check in on Foursquare and the future improved product will make it obvious that you still don’t have to tell the world where you are if you don’t want to. But the checkin process, he promises, will be much simpler.