Friends of mine have noticed a growing obsession of mine… Foursquare, an application for smartphones that uses GPS to identify where you are each time you open the app, has taken over my daily activities. When I arrive at places, one of the first things that comes to mind is, “I need to check in!”
It’s a sickness, truly. But it’s bizarrely entertaining.
There are plenty of apps that allow you to “check in” and tell your friends (who have the same application, anyway) where you are… But this one has some neat functionality that is more innovative. Users can add their own locations to the database if a particular place isn’t loaded. You can also leave “tips” for others to read about a favorite restaurant, store, etc.
There are also points, like regular video games. Log in to multiple locations throughout the day, and you get extra points for each additional stop. (1 point for your first stop, then 2 more points for the 2nd stop, then 3 more for your third stop, etc.) This rewards you for exploring your city and checking in several times, as each one gives you more and more. And before you ask, no, you can’t actually DO anything with the points, though there IS a leaderboard that lets you compete with your friends for the most points that day.
If you are a very frequent visitor to a particular location, you might become the “Mayor” of it. And yes, you may find yourself in a battle with other regulars over the title of Mayor. For a time, I was the Mayor of a local bar that I attended several times in a week… not long afterwards, I received an email from Foursquare letting me know that I’d been knocked off my throne by a friend of mine who claims he never goes out. Jerk.
Unlike the points, however, being a Mayor of a location might actually get you some tangible benefits (beyond having your name/picture shown to everyone who checks in there.) Businesses are catching on to the Foursquare fever, and are offering rewards to people for participating.
At Starbucks, for instance, you can receive a discount on certain beverages if you are the Mayor of that store. Some businesses are more rewarding: at a restaurant two blocks from my home, you get free garlic knots just for showing the server that you’ve “checked in” on Foursquare. (Good advertising, I suppose!)
So c’mon, folks… if you’ve got a smartphone (iPhone, Blackberry, Android, etc.) get on Foursquare and send me a friend request. Let’s get to checking in, shall we?