In a bid to continue momentum and broaden utility and engagement Foursquare released a new version of its iPhone app. The new app contains two big new features: photos and comments. (Android and BlackBerry are coming shortly.) Both have been on the white board for some time according to Alex Rainert, head of product for the company.
Comments allow friends to have a conversation about a venue or related experience. They also allow people to coordinate activities, which previously could only be done via SMS.
Comments are private among those you’re connected to on Foursquare. Comments can be made on the Foursquare PC site as well. The company is also working on a way to centralize conversations and later present that information back to users.
Depending on how this feature plays out it could be quite significant in Foursquare’s evolution and a tool to dramatically deepen social engagement.
Photos by comparison are both public and private. Check-in photos are only available to friends. Photos connected to tips and venues are public. Soon photos will be able to be exported to Facebook and Flickr.
The addition of photos will make Foursquare quite a bit richer and more interesting. It should also deepen engagement as users upload pictures and comment on them.
Facebook also announced that photos taken on API partners Instagram, FoodSpotting and PicPlz will now be exported to Foursquare. Previously they were “stuck” in those apps. Other apps and sites will follow next year.
Foursquare is combating “check-in fatigue” as well as trying to make the app more mainstream. Various surveys reflect that only a small minority of mobile users (4 to 7 percent) have tried Foursquare; however the site now claims more than five million users.
I asked Rainert about check-in fatigue. He said that Foursquare’s challenge ” is to build experiences and features on top of check-ins to make them more compelling.” Photos and comments should help, as the site evolves from a “geo-social game” into a more fully realized cityguide and social network.
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