Whenever I open up Foursquare’s Swarm app, it feels like the party has thinned out. To be sure, the location-logging social app, which the company controversially spun off from its flagship Foursquare city guide app in 2014, has never really been a top-of-the-charts kind of app. But maybe that doesn’t matter all that much.
That’s because Swarm is doubling down on the navel-gazey “lifelogging” use case. The latest, redesigned version of the app, which launches today, puts even more emphasis on users’ ability to keep track of their location history using personalized maps and charts. While it still has social features (such as checking in with friends and the ability to like and comment on check-ins), Swarm’s interface is increasingly hyper-focused on the insular experience of the individual user. Today’s launch of Swarm 5.0 continues a shift toward lifelogging that picked up steam in March 2016 with the last major version of the app. Last summer, the app added real-life perks (such as deals at the local spa or pizza shop) to try and make Swarm more attractive to regular people. Swarm 5.0 just brings lifelogging to the forefront and adds a layer of design polish.
Another reason Swarm’s relatively low usage might not be an emergency for Foursquare: The company has smartly pivoted the business side of its operation to licensing its location database to third-party apps and building ad-tech products that help turn some of that data into revenue as well. So not only has Foursquare built new pipelines of cash into its business, but some of its partnerships provide reciprocal location data from third parties, making it less crucial to Foursquare’s business for Swarm and its sister app Foursquare to boast massive user growth every quarter.
Still, it does get lonely checking into coffee shops and dive bars all alone. Maybe I’ll try putting my phone down.JPT