After months of relative quiet, Foursquare finally unveiled on Thursday what it has been working on for the past six months. The company announced via blog post that it will split its app into two separate products: Fousquare will offer location discovery and recommendations, while check-ins will move to a new app called Swarm.
“We built Swarm because you’ve told us how often you still have to text your friends: ‘where are you?’ and ‘what you up to later?’ We wanted to build a quick way for you to know these two things for all of your friends.”
Swarm acts as a “heat map” that allows users to see which friends are nearby. Users have their general area listed — say, a neighborhood — passively, without opening the app. But, they can check-in to give friends a better idea of where exactly they are.
The features are heavily reminiscent of Facebook’s newest people discovery feature, Nearby Friends, as both are exploring the best mix of passive location and social media to encourage real-life meet-ups. The most important difference, though, is that Swarm is a lighter, faster, standalone app that doesn’t require opt-in measures and ports Foursquare friends easily.
“Swarm is for people who want the fastest and easiest way to connect with their friends,” the blog post explained. “Foursquare is for explorers who want to know about the best spots, and to share what they’ve found with others.”
With Swarm on the market, Foursquare will finally transform its main app into the location discovery product that it has been pushing for the last few months. It’s a vision that Dennis Crowley talked about in-depth onstage at Gigaom’s Structure Data in March: the new Foursquare will focus on location discovery, utilizing the company’s rich data to push recommendations to users about places they should visit throughout their day. With check-ins out of the main app, that exploratory piece will expand — likely to compete head-to-head with Yelp.
Swarm’s release date is still unknown, but users who are interested can sign up on the app’s website. The new Foursquare is scheduled to be released within the coming months.