Posts tagged foursquare

FourSquare OpenStreetMap winning

I didn't have the time to discuss this when the news first broke, but was nonetheless excited :)

"Hot new startup alert!"

From the official Foursquare blog, where you would expect to read news from Foursquare:

Starting today, we’re embracing the OpenStreetMap movement, so all the maps you see when you go to will look a tiny bit different (we think the new ones are really pretty). Other than slightly different colors and buttons, though, foursquare is still the same site you know and love.

Many news outlets have been running this story, though they tend to leave out one small detail.

Around this time, we reached out to the wonderful team at MapBox (hot new startup alert!) to see if they had any ideas. They were making gorgeous maps with the OpenStreetMap data. And, like all great love stories, the timing here was perfect. Earlier this week, they launched MapBox Streets, which now powers all of’s maps.

Among the PR speak here: Foursquare will be using MapBox specifically as the source of their maps, which in turn uses OpenStreetMap data. This isn't unusual behaviour, and I suppose it's simpler for journalists to just report OpenStreetMap is being used.

Thinking out loud

The reasons cited seem to echo many companies that have been jumping ship from Google Maps of late. Or would it be jump car. I forget.

Point is, while "facilitating the open web" seems to be a common thread (sorry, bad joke), it's probably safe to assume the real impetus for changing lay behind Google's decision to start charging fairly exorbitant amounts of money for the use of their services. This Google+ posting (ironically) summarises many of the issues facing Google Maps clients.

One could discuss cost, the fact OpenStreetMaps are open, maps MapBox render are pretty, or Google dropping their Do No Evil mantra, but for me it's a simple win for utility!

Originally due to spotty Optus reception, I'd long since replaced Google Maps on my iTelephone with various offline OpenStreetMap installs. To my delight and surprise, it turns out their maps are far better around the areas of Sydney I frequent than Google Maps; many walking paths that exist on the former simply don't on the latter. Insert comment about Sensis here (Martin, I'm looking at you!).

Singapore was another story back in 2010, but that may have changed. In any event, good news and I hope more companies follow suit.

Goodbye @Gowalla

Gowalla have removed the one feature I enjoyed the most with their latest iteration, so it's time for me to give up my account of many years, and move exclusively to Foursquare. We had some great times!

Easter egg hunts for adults

Like most of my Twitter friends, several years ago I moved from Brightkite to Gowalla to satisfy my check-in obsession. Gowalla was more reliable, and offered some great new features such as badges you would earn for various activities, and beautiful unique graphics for different location categories.

The most interesting twist Gowalla introduced though was the concept of items tied to locations. Like a scavenger hunt, you would find items upon checking into places which you could keep, swap with other items people had left in different places, or use them to "found" places.

While I started using Foursquare last year and concurrently checking into places with it given my friends all use the service, I was an obsessive Gowalla user until this afternoon. I used it to check into my favourite coffee shops in Adelaide at the time, then Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney where I found myself living, then and around Germany, the Czech Republic, France and Ireland on our last holiday. It was lots of fun!

Uh oh, spaghettioes

This all seems to have changed however. With their latest software update, Gowalla has introduced their new Guides feature which promises a curated tour of various different cities. To their credit, their graphics are just as great as ever.

Gone however are our earned items and badges. They're not anywhere in the new application, and API calls return nothing. Call me old fashioned or inexperienced when it comes to cloud computing, but I tend not to trust services that delete our data, particularly data that we've collected in world travels and such. I'm also reluctant to contribute material to sites that will delete my data, this has happened far too many times already and I'm tired of it. Is it any wonder I blog on my own domain and web server?

I'll admit, it was starting to get irritating checking into both Gowalla and Foursquare at the same time[1], and I was starting to look for an excuse to ditch one of them. This change in focus with Gowalla has provided the impetus I needed to move to Foursquare exclusively, which I've now just done. My last Gowalla check-in was at the Euro Coffee Bar, the location that surpassed the Boatdeck Café in Mawson Lakes, Adelaide as my #1 check-in location. Seemed fitting.

So long, and thanks for all the fish [items].

Good luck with your new focus Gowalla team, thanks for the fun times. For those of you who have followed me on Gowalla, you can now find me on Foursquare.

UPDATE: Despite the API not returning anything, I downgraded the app back to 3.3.0 on my iTelephone, and my pins and items were still there. Perhaps they've just closed access to them, or stored them on my phone. In that case, may it still be possible to export my stuff then?

Foursquare sorta sells out, I’m on Gowalla


Previously when people would ask me on Twitter whether I used Gowalla or Foursquare I'd reply with Gowalla because Foursquare wasn't available in Singapore or Australia when I started, and now that I have all my locations on there I may as well keep using it. Now it seems I finally have a concrete reason to keep using Gowalla:

On the heels of the Foursquare-Bravo TV deal, news of several additional major media partnerships involving the location-based social networking app have dropped this evening.

According to various reports, Zagat, Warner Bros., HBO, the History Channel and ExploreChicago have all been added to Foursquare’s media and entertainment mix.

First reaction: oh well, sellouts! Second reaction: doesn't this just further cement Foursquare's reputation as a site that puts the US #1 and the rest of the world on the backburner? I'm assuming these "media partnerships" are America centric. Third reaction: the linked news report on Mashable only had glowing, positive comments? That's a bit suspect.

Anyway I've decided now more than ever to keep using Gowalla, even if their parent company's homepage is so full of saccharine sweet marketing speak I needed to skull three dozen espressos in rapid succession after reading it! ;)