Talking tech since 2003

Foursquare is a geo-location based service that allows people to easily check-in to places.  While it may sound rather stupid put so plainly, it is so addicting.  I avoided foursquare for a number of months due to the stupidity factor I felt came associated along with it, but I have changed my mind.  Not only is foursquare fun and addicting, it’s also useful and can even get you some free stuff or great recommendations (more on that in a few).

The most fun way to use foursquare is to download and install the iPhone or Android application (of course depending on your phone).  Blackberry users fear not an application is in the works, but in the meantime you can use the mobile version of the foursquare site (which works on all phones with Internet access).  Once you have the app installed or are using the mobile version of the site simply login to your account and check-in when you visit a place.  Additionally, you can configure your foursquare account to update your Twitter and Facebook accounts when you check-in some place so your friends and followers can keep up with you.

In short, to “check-in” is a way of telling people your whereabouts. When you check-in some place, foursquare can tell your friends (via foursquare, Twitter, Facebook) where they can find you and recommend places to go & things to do nearby. People check-in at all kind of places – cafes, bars, restaurants, parks, homes, offices.

As I mentioned before foursquare is great for finding free stuff and great recommendations.  For example, you check-in to a restaurant, someone who has been there previously may have left a tip such as “Try the onion soup, it’s amazing.”  Little slivers of information like that can be helpful and fun.  Foursquare can also use people’s tips to suggest places to go that are nearby which can be pretty nifty.  Essentially, the more people that use it, the more useful it will become.

Aside from foursquare being useful, it’s also a game – it helps that it’s so addicting, which makes it easy and fun to play. Every foursquare check-in earns you points. Find a new place in your neighborhood? +5 points. Making multiple stops in a night? +2 points. Dragging friends along with you? +1.

As you start checking-in to more interesting places with different people, you will start unlocking badges. There are badges for discovering new places and for traveling to far away places.  More on points and badges here.

What kind of game would it be without any competition? Well, foursquare has its competition too! The competition comes in the form of mayors. Mayors are determined by the amount of time you visit a place. If you’ve been to a place more than anyone else, you will become “the mayor”, well, until someone else comes along and steals your title.

Being mayor of a place has its perks too such as, free coffees, free ice-cream, free hotel stays, so make sure you check-in whenever you go! Additionally, places are starting to team up with foursquare and offer free food and drinks to people who show that they are using foursquare. Foursquare will notify you if there is a place around where you currently are located that has a foursquare special. For example, when I was at Cafe Luxembourg in NYC the other day there was an ice cream shop offering free ice cream if you showed that you used foursquare – pretty cool, huh? I’d say so.

Have you tried foursquare? What do you think about it?

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