Foursquare revealed a splashy overhaul yesterday that transformed the location service into an app that serves up smart suggestions for your next meal. It knows what you want to eat before you do. But, tucked behind the glitzy redesign and pink-colored branding is a major new feature that the Wall Street Journal suggests “some users might find creepy.”
It tracks your whereabouts even when the app is closed.
The new Foursquare defaults to anonymous, always-on location sharing, which users will have to change in the settings manually. Is it surprising? For anyone has been paying attention to Foursquare’s evolution, perhaps not!
In 2011, for example, Foursquare debuted a feature called Radar, a 24/7 GPS tracker that promised to phase the check-in into the background. It didn’t last, mostly because Foursquare did not have enough data at the time to serve up intelligent suggestions, and also because it was a serious battery leech.
CEO Dennis Crowley never made it a secret that he wants future versions of Foursquare to know where you are at all times. The writing was on the wall. “I want the next Foursquare employee who comes [to a restaurant] to get a message that says, ‘Dennis was here two weeks ago–whatever you do, get the sausage,’ without having to open the app,” Crowley told Fast Company last summer.
It’s also worth mentioning that Swarm, the recently spun-off check-in app, ambiently tracks a user’s location, and broadcasts to their friends their general whereabouts–Downtown Manhattan, in the Mission, etc.–without pinpointing where they are specifically.