When Foursquare did its big update, splitting it into Foursquare and Swarm, I felt a bit meh about it and stopped using it. I had enjoyed using Foursquare because it had changed from being just Check-ins to a pretty good recommendation engine, but the split felt unnecessary to me. Recently I decided to give them a go anyway, and after a couple of days playing with the new apps, here are a few quick thoughts.
The most interesting thing for me is that the new apps embrace a mobile first mindset much more aggressively that the previous iterations: single task focus, smart defaults, and just-in-time interactions.
The cherry on top is that the motion and animation of the interface is generally much improved. The interface feels more alive for it, and more fun to use.
They’ve switched to large text for input. This works well because the text you enter is short. On the previous version, it felt like lots of screen space was taken up by irrelevant stuff, forcing the text size smaller because of the limited space. Now it’s focused on the one task you’re doing: pecking out a quick bit of text.
Location-based searching is now much cuter and feels much smoother. It makes a (usually good) guess at where you are, but let’s you change it easily. Using smart defaults means less work for the user: just a confirmation of the best guess rather than searching and selecting.
There are quite a few tutorial bits, but they are well placed and judged: short bursts of information that pop up as you need them. This method of just in time teaching works much better than front-loading it all and making the user wade through pages of information that isn’t immediately relevant.