A few years back I saw a start up company that was trying to create a  geo-locational mobile dating platform.  The idea was that the startup would install their platform in every bar/coffee shop and users would be able to sign in when at that location to see who else was there and single.  Now I loved the idea and thought many others would love it too but the main issue was that there was no way this startup could go from place to place and install the platform- scalability was problematic.

Now lets fast forward to 2009  and we have Foursquare in Tel Aviv. Foursquare allows its users to “check in” at any location from a list of cities made available by Foursquare. Users are responsible to add the location’s address if they are the first ones to “unlock the badge” or register the location to the site.  A user must sign in every time they want their location disclosed to the public. It is not an automated platform unlike Google Latitude which is automated when the app is open on your mobile device

I have been dying to play with this mobile app for some time now. Not a day goes by that I do not see a mention of a friend checking in or becoming a mayor of some location in the States via my twitter feed and all I could do was look at the tweet, stomp my feet and say “when will they bring it to Tel Aviv” ?!

And now its here. But I have used it maybe four times. This is really geared towards the  iphone or BB devices.  The interface on the symbian devices is via the internet browsing and not an app. The current website for the mobile is not aesthetically pleasing or even easy to use.

Part of the power and appeal of foursquare for me is not just the “I am here now” but the recommendation aspect.  Foursquare allows the users to comment on every location, make recommendations and view the list of others who have “checked in” at the same location.

The question I hear most frequently in regards to Foursquare is – Why would I want others to know where I am ?

Its not just about where I am, but also the recommendations from friends and contacts on the platform.

Foursquare is an application that allows me to explore my city by the recommendations of my friends and trusted contacts.  I can see where they “checked-in”, view the recommendations from other users, build a “to do list” of locations I want to visit and most importantly I can reach out and get trusted feedback from my friends.  I trust my community more than I trust articles I read both online and offline.

As a non native citizen of Israel,  I prefer to read in English (my mother tongue) and I do not have Hebrew on my computer so I can’t search easily Hebrew even if I wanted to.  This application allows me to find new restaurants, bars, coffee shops, bakeries, etc from my trusted network and explore  this wonderful city I call home.

A less significant reason I like foursquare is the ” I am here” aspect. There are often times that I am in a neighborhood and in the mood for coffee and company but I have no idea who is around or not. Now I can go to Twitter or Facebook and change my status to let people know that I am looking for company but I have to wait until someone responds.  On the other hand, Foursquare lets me check in and see where my friends and contacts are currently situated  and I can then directly reach out to them and say “do you have time for a coffee now? “. It makes the experience of meeting up with friends and colleagues just that much easier.

Foursquare enables the city  I am in (which can be changed when traveling) to a much smaller and personable city.

So the next time you see a Foursquare post, tweet or mention realize that this mobile application allows even the most savvy city folks a new way to explore their city and to meet up with friends.