Foursquare's Swarm app is now available for iPhone and Android, letting you find nearby friends and check in to bars, restaurants, and other places. Foursquare announced Swarm two weeks ago as one-half of its new split personality — one app for finding friends and checking in, and another (launching later this summer) for finding great places to go nearby.
Like Foursquare, Swarm lets you check in to show friends where you are, but it also uses passive location signals to show you which friends are nearby even when they haven't checked in. Where Find My Friends shows you a friend's location down to the foot, Swarm lets you see who's in the neighborhood when you want to get one more drink at 1 AM. If you want to hide your location, you can swipe on the app's top bar to go off the grid. Foursquare hopes that by making sharing your location less creepy, people will finally give the concept a shot.
With Swarm, Foursquare also took the opportunity to try out a few new ideas. The app lets you suggest plans to your Swarm friends — a friends list independent of your Foursquare friends — and then text the people who say they're interested. Swarm also for the first time lets you search your entire history of check ins, an often-requested feature. With all of Swarm's new features comes the retiring of some old ones, however, like Foursquare's conventional ideas of mayorships, leaderboards, and other gamification mechanics. You can find these features and continue checking in using Foursquare's main app, but not for long. It will be replaced by a brand new version focused on discovery in the coming weeks.
Foursquare's social features will be surely be missed by some, but with Swarm, Foursquare is betting big on sharing your location with friends — not on the aging concept of checking in to earn points. For the full story on the creation of Swarm and the future of Foursquare, be sure to check out our feature story.