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Today Foursquare split itself in two.

A struggling giant in social, Foursquare is shedding check-ins from its core, and as a result, it may alienate its 50 million users into the arms of a competitor. Instead of a singular “Foursquare” app, the firm will offer two separate services: an upcoming self-titled app for local search and discovery, and a separate, newly available app — Swarm — for check-ins and other social features. For now, the original Foursquare app is caught in the midst of this major transition.

Foursquare believes these new services will keep users more engaged than ever, and it wants them to use both of the apps in tandem.

In conversation with VentureBeat, Foursquare product experience VP Jon Steinback compared Foursquare’s unbundling to Facebook; “[the change is] like Facebook and Facebook messenger, where you can jump back and forth within the app.”

According to Steinback, “Foursquare is the place for tips and opinions about a place. Swarm is the place for the social stuff.” Steinback admits that this is a little complicated:

Change is really hard. It’s part of the reason why we’ve tried to explain things as clearly as possible. There’s obviously some stuff that’s different and there’s a lot of education that takes place.

“The future of Foursquare asks: How do you discover places that you’ll love?,” says Steinback. Foursquare believes its self-titled app will be “the future of local search. We fundamentally believe local search is broken,” Steinback tells VentureBeat.

As for the check-ins, Foursquare’s claim to fame, they’ll be completely removed from the Foursquare app later this summer. For now, Foursquare check-ins co-exist with Swarm, Foursquare’s app for all things social.

You have two different use cases — when you’re deciding where to go to dinner, and…when you want to get a drink afterwards and meet up with friends…Swarm will make your life better by helping you meet up with friends more often.

For existing Foursquare users, the experience starts with search. Let’s say you’re out to find the best coffee shop. A simple search in the original Foursquare app might reveal the following, ad-packed results. Pick your poison.


When you arrive, pop open the Swarm app. Share your location.


Hop back into Foursquare for a review, or just feel around Swarm for a bit to see where your friends are and what they’re up to.


For users eager to switch to the new flow, it’s noteworthy that the experience is not yet seamless. Foursquare has opted to transition users gradually into Swarm. As such, check-ins, points, and other features awkwardly remain in Foursquare. It’s easy to forget which app to use for what, although Foursquare shares that after downloading Swarm, users will notice small, discovery-focused changes to the Foursquare app.

By not eliminating check-ins from Foursquare immediately, the firm believes users won’t feel burned. The new Foursquare is in “advanced testing phases,” and will be “rebuilt from the ground up,” shares Steinback.

“This is on a huge bet on the future of Foursquare,” Steinback claims, but Foursquare’s future is in limbo for the moment. Until the transition is complete, the startup’s future is on hold. For now, the success of Foursquare’s controversial relaunch is unclear.

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