It’s a big call, I know. Millions of people use foursquare daily and I have the hide to dis it. Well I am. I’m dissin’ it. And I’m serious, because I’m saying “dissin’”. Foursquare has gained popularity as a tool to track your friends movements and… I don’t know what else. But people love it nonetheless and I don’t know why.
If I’m lashing out and saying Foursquare sucks, I probably should give some substance to my controversial claim by providing some hard reasons for not liking it. First of all, though, I will say that I do use the app. All the time. And I don’t even know why.
Without further ado, the top reasons for hating Foursquare:
I really hate the design of Foursquare. It reminds of an IBM computer circa 1988. Or maybe even a microbee circa 1986. It looks really out of place on a device such as an iphone which prides itself on fantastic aesthetics. That blue and white interface with hard lines, flat lists and endless blandness… it’s awful! Oh and don’t get me started on squares. The app is full of squares and rectangles! I like pictures. Colours. Rounded edges. Get some of that in the app and it will start to look more interesting and feel better to use. As it stands, whenever I open the app I feel irritated by it’s boringness. Note: Shaving off the edge of a corner does not give the app the rounded edges I desire. It just looks like a sharp corner was chopped off.
Duplicates are rare on Foursquare. Why? Because many spots are in triplicate, quadruplicate, quintiplicate, hexatiplicate and dodecatipilacte. In other words, the database is an absolute mess making it really demoralising when you find that the spot you’ve been checking into for months is actually not the one most people have been using. They’ve been checking into the one 100m away. Another problem with all these multiple spots is that it’s sometimes difficult to know which one to checkin to. Really destroys the experience for me.
Too Many Inane Spots
There are so many inane spots on Foursquare that crowd out the real spots. Like “my bedroom”. Or all the gates that are located within an airport. Checking into gate 48a within an airport isn’t really relevant in a location-based app. Terminal maybe. Airport yes. Gate number no.
The badges in Foursquare really are awful. Firstly, the implementation seems to be a half-hearted attempt and adding a game feature to the app. But it’s half-baked. Many of the badges are for things that don’t mean anything (checking into 3 locations that have photobooths in them???), they very rarely scale based on how heavy a user you are (what about a badge for checking into 100 locations that have photobooths in them?) and they are ugly. Really ugly. I don’t want those badges. They’re embarrassing.
Spot Popularity Indeterminable
It’s really difficult to tell if a spot you’ve never been to before is popular or not. This might seem irrelevant, but on my recent trip around Oz, I often used Gowalla to look at spots around me to see if lots of people were going to them. There appeared to be a direct correlation between frequently checked into spots and the location’s awesomeness. On Foursquare, you have this flat list of messed up spots and duplicates that gives no hints about what nearby is cool. Even the new “explore” feature doesn’t work.
The tips feature is busted. Rarely is it used to give tips. It’s turning into a way for users to spam and add “humurous” comments. They’re rarely of any use. This feature needs to be deleted and replaced with a rating feature. Thumb up or down if you like the spot. Add a comment and it can be thumbed up or down. Simple.
They’re my main bugbears. The design aspect is the thing that keeps me away from it most of the time. As Gowalla improves its foursquare checkin procedure, I’m going to start trying to make all my foursquare checkins through Gowalla. Then I don’t have to use foursquare at all! This begs the question, though, why don’t I just delete the app altogether? Well, I’ve been asking this question myself and I think it’s related to my 1) hope that they’ll fix it, 2) fear of missing out on something.
If you use foursquare, give Gowalla a try for a few days and let me know how you go. Better or worse? Agree that Foursquare is a bag of crap?