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Swarm's new update offers real-world prizes

Swarm's new update offers real-world prizes


The first giveaway is a $10,000 trip to anywhere in the world

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The latest version of the check-in app Swarm just dropped, and it's sporting a new feature called Swarm Perks that offers real-world prizes for checking-in at locations and completing specific challenges. Prior to this update, Swarm users could compete for in-game rewards, like virtual gold coins and a place on the leaderboards. Swarm Perks is the first time that users will be able to get something that has real-world value by using the app.

The Swarm Perks update has two features. The first is discounts for checking-in at participating locations. "For example, I could go down to Best Buy right now, check-in, and I could unlock 20 percent off my purchases there," Swarm's vice president of product Jonathan Crowley told The Verge. "I take out my phone, have it scanned at the point-of-sale cash register, and that's it." These discounts are provided by a third-party service, Crowley said.

Then there's the weekly sweepstakes challenge, which will require users to check-in at specific types of locations, like a new restaurant, for example. Everyone who completes the weekly challenge gets entered in a sweepstakes drawing. Prizes will vary on a week-to-week basis. For Swarm's first challenge, players will be asked to check-in at a summer-themed spot like stadiums, theme parks, and beaches to get a chance to win a $10,000 trip to anywhere in the world.

The pot won't necessarily be this grandiose every week. Other planned prized include concert tickets, spa-days, shopping sprees, and electronics.

Swarm's new feature is reminiscent of the old Foursquare app's Specials feature, which let merchants offer deals and discounts. In 2014, the original Foursquare app was split in two: a new version of Foursquare that acts a lot like Yelp, and Swarm, which kept the check-in capability but did away with some of Foursquare's most recognizable features, like leaderboards, badges, and mayorships. Over the course of 2015, Swarm brought a lot of these old features back, having suffered an initial dip in user activity, Crowley says. Since the beginning of 2015, they've seen the number of check-ins per a user in the US triple.

Today's update feels like a hard push to attract new users to the app, at least compared to its last update, which added a revamped home screen and a doughnut chart that mapped your all-time history and past 60 days of check-ins.