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planeteersWe’ve all been there — the arrival of your group at a particular venue, followed by 30 seconds of everyone pecking at their touchscreens to check in on Foursquare. Finally, the madness ends with the latest update to Foursquare for iOS and Android. One person can check themselves, and a few friends, in at the same time, putting an end to the huddled smartphone glow that looks more like Planeteers trying to summon Captain Planet than friends enjoying each other’s company.

Since the app’s inception, you’ve only been able to check yourself into a location and not any of your friends, despite the fact that Facebook’s own check-in system has offered this feature for a while. With the latest update, you’ll be able to add a friend to your check-in much like you could previously — only now, instead of that friend simply being mentioned in your update, they’ll get an alert asking if you have permission to check them in. If that friend consents, they are checked into the venue with you. If not, they’re simply mentioned in your update.

foursquare-iosAnd, just so your friends don’t have to be bothered with an alert every time you check them in, they only have to grant this permission once for it to stick permanently. So after that initial check-in, you’ll be able to check your friend in with you on subsequent hangouts without any other hoops to jump through.

This is a welcome addition in a couple of ways. First off, not everyone remembers to check themselves into a particular place. I know I don’t. So having a friend remember and check you in means more check-ins and points for you and more useful data for Foursquare. It’s also a better way to show who you’re with at a particular place. There may be instances when you’re checked into a location with a Foursquare friend but you’re not really there together (amusement parks come to mind). The ability to check a friend in as being with you means there’s a distinction between being in the same place and being in the same place together. That might be data that Foursquare can use to make the experience better down the line.

The update went live yesterday, so if you don’t have it already, open up the App Store or the Google Play store and upgrade to the latest version. And let us know what you think. Will you be checking friends in with you or do you feel this feature is unnecessary? Leave your thoughts.

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