I Changed My Mind—Foursquare Is Actually Really Fun And Useful

foursquare iphone app

Photo: Ellis Hamburger, Business Insider

A few months ago, I wrote a post about my first couple weeks using Foursquare, the most popular “check-in” app.At the end of my trial, I decided that I wasn’t going to use Foursquare anymore, primarily because very few of my friends were using it.

The longer I’m in New York, the more friends I make that are using the service, which has made it more fun to use.

But more importantly, I’ve learned more about the tools inside Foursquare that make it more relevant than Yelp and as timely as Twitter.

Foursquare turns out to be a pretty valuable tool. Here’s why:

1. The Foursquare app includes some great tools to help you explore your city, even if you don’t have many friends on the service.

One of these tools is a “Trending” area where it’s easy to see where tons of people are checking in. Often, these places might include a store’s grand opening that you might want to check out, or a new show in town that you wouldn’t have otherwise known about.

Unlike Yelp, the data here is only timely data, so the information is always relevant. You can even view trending places on a map, which is awesome.

2. The people you know who do use Foursquare are likely people who love to explore, see sights, eat great food, and adventure outside of their backyards. This means that when you check in to places, comments or tips from friends are more common than you’d think.

3. When you check in, the first thing you see are Tips, which often provide essential insight into the best things to do at the museum you’re visiting, or the best kind of shake to get at Shake Shack.

4. Even if none of your friends are on Foursquare, it’s simple to cross-post your check in to places like Facebook and Twitter. On these sites, you might get comments about what you’re doing and maybe even advice about what to order.

5. Foursquare is great for making To Do lists of places you want to eat. If you enable Foursquare Radar, a new feature, the app can make your phone buzz if you walk by somewhere you’ve been wanting to eat but have forgotten about.

6. It takes a lot less time than I thought it would to “check in.” I originally panned the idea of checking in at each place you visit because it’s antisocial and takes time, but Foursquare is smart.

When you tap “Check In,” it uses algorithms to determine where you most likely are based on your GPS location, even if you’re indoors.

If you visit the same restaurant at a mall relatively frequently, Foursquare will offer you that option first, even though there are dozens of stores and restaurants at that mall.

7. Lastly, Foursquare is a fun way to journal your life. Nobody wants to write down what bar they went to on New Year’s Eve, or where that one great dinner you went to was. When you check in, Foursquare keeps track of all these places for you so it’s easy to find them again.

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