Feature Friday: Foursquare Radar

A few weeks ago I ran into Dennis Crowley in the USV offices. He whipped out his iPhone like the excited kid he still is and showed me Radar running on his phone. He was running a pre-release of iOS5 and a pre-release of the new Foursquare app. His phone alerted him, just like getting a text message, that he was at USV and he ought to check in there.

I said, “Dennis, this is the feature we’ve all been waiting for. This is what I’ve wanted Foursquare to do since the day I put it on my phone.”

There are features and then there are game changing features. Foursquare’s Radar is a game changing feature. Radar will prompt me to checkin more frequently, to use lists more actively, and to find people and places I need to know about while I’m out and about. Radar is one more bit of the big Foursquare vision being rolled out.

Here’s Foursquare’s post about Radar and another with answers to some frequently asked questions. It’s interesting to see that Radar is leveraging some new technology in iOS5 to make it work without draining the battery:

Radar uses a very battery-friendly location-finding mode that is totally new to iOS 5, the same one Apple’s own Reminders app uses.

Now, can we get Radar on Android and Blackberry please??


Comments (Archived):

  1. Rohan

    Go iPhone!And nice description – ‘He whipped out his iPhone like the excited kid he still is’To be child-like and not childish is a real win. ūüôā

    1. laurie kalmanson

      stay hungry, stay foolish

      1. fredwilson

        @dens:twitter does a great job of following that approach to life

        1. laurie kalmanson


  2. Fernando Gutierrez

    It looks amazing, too bad they don’t have an Android version yet.The only concern I would have is too much notifications can be disgusting sometimes. I hope they have included some automatic limits into the feature and given the user the ability to tweak that if he wants.

  3. RichardF

    FF – three weeks in a row, nice!I like the idea of a reminder, as long as it’s accurate to my location.Does the current android app support one click check in? ¬†I haven’t bothered downloading it yet as I stopped using foursquare on my iPhone.

    1. fredwilson

      Radar is not in android yetBut the android app has improved so much in the past three months

      1. William Mougayar

        Too bad that Android is still playing catch-up with iPhone apps. Where Android is better is still the exception more than the norm. (I know I’m going to irk Fred with this statement).

        1. Aaron Klein

          I’d like to see startups figure out how to resource their Android and iPhone apps more evenly. I think it’s a better and more consistent message to their user bases to have functionality roll out across mobile platforms simultaneously.And I don’t think it’s that difficult. Neither iOS or Android are that hard to develop for.

          1. Mark Essel

            Nail it on one platform with your 1-3 engineering staff then replicate on others as resources allow.The advantage is iteration time with only a single platform.

          2. Aaron Klein

            If there are only two viable mobile platforms, do you really have to do that once both apps are established?

        2. kenberger

          …depends on the app. If it’s a Google app, of course it will generally lead on Android.Check out Google Translate for Android, conversation mode, it’s pretty AMAZING. Use your phone to converse while travelling http://bit.ly/o5WtYS

          1. William Mougayar

            Thanks for mentioning that Google Translate app. It’s available for the iPhone too.

          2. kenberger

            yep, but without the conversation mode, which is where the real world useful juice is.I was actually involved in a similar-themed product at the very beginning: http://www.chinaonecall.com 

        3. matthughes

          True.Disqus comes to mind as someone who focused on Android first.Looking forward to their iPhone app…

          1. Brad

            Agreed, love Disqus which it worked better on my iphone.

        4. fredwilson

          you know i’m trying as hard as i can to evangelize android with developers

          1. William Mougayar

            I’m with you. But it seems that the platform is still more difficult to work with than iOS. Google has to make it as easy as iOS, if not easier for developers. It still takes 2 Android developers to equal the productivity of 1 iPhone developer. Everyday, companies are deciding – do I develop for iPhone first or Android? Few have the luxury of doing both simultaneously.¬†

    2. Fernando Gutierrez

      It’s one click when you select the venue, but two additional ones to get there. Quite faster than the previous version and a few nice features.Off topic, good luck to Wales tomorrow at RWC, they are playing great!

      1. RichardF

        thanks FernandoI’ll download the android app and give foursquare another chance to delight me

      2. Donna Brewington White

        Ditto on Wales @RichardForster:disqus 

  4. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

    I wrote a while back that the new iOS 5 notifications would be a boon to Foursquare:¬†http://www.businessinsider….This takes it to a new level.¬†

  5. LIAD

    a ton of location based innovation has been held back by the inability to keep continually abreast of a users location without killing the battery and/or falling foul of Apple’s API guidelines.iOS5 opens a new world. Expect a thousand flowers to bloom.

    1. Francesco Patarnello

      I do not understan this. On Android you have always had the means to create low power consuming apps to keep track of your location all the time, and still I do not see that many apps that makes use of this in a smart (and value adding) way.what specifically about the new iOS 5 will make things change?

      1. dens

        If you read up on the new region-monitoring stuff you’ll see some of the hooks. ¬†We experimented on iPhone pre IOS5 and were chewing thru batteries in 4 hours. ¬†Similar (tho slightly better) with Android. ¬†The APIs that power Radar in iOS5 will power a bunch of new stuff going fwd, including Android. ¬†

        1. andrew thomas

          the region monitoring stuff allows the os to send a message to the app when it arrives or departs from a location. ¬†It’s used in the apple reminder app, foursquare radar and I use it in an app I wrote to track time I spend on site as a contractor for billing.the really cool thing about region monitoring is that it doesn’t really use the power intensive gps, it uses the wifi signals that it detects to know where it is.Here is my app: :-)http://itunes.apple.com/us/…

  6. CliffElam

    Boy, I just don’t get it. ¬†The *last* thing I want from my phone ¬†is more alerting.This is my problem with the whole social media space – I’m just so uninterested in most of what goes on there. ¬†It’s not that I’m anti-social, apparently I’ve just got dinosaur DNA.I should set a reminder to avoid meteorites.-XC

    1. Tom Labus

      I think I’m with you on this one.

    2. Aaron Klein

      I find that I’m uninterested when there are no benefits for me.When I get something out of it – a discount, discovering a good friend is nearby, or keeping up to date with friends I care about – then social actually becomes useful.Otherwise, it’s just tech for the sake of tech.

    3. whitneymcn

      I’m on the other side of the fence: I’ve wanted exactly this feature since before Foursquare existed (and was disappointed when it wasn’t possible to build on the original iPhone).Here are the two scenarios I point to:I’m in an unfamiliar city: if I happen to be passing near a great local book or record store in my travels I want to know about it, even if my pre-trip research didn’t surface the existence of the store.I’m at home in NYC: in the last couple of years great new coffee and food places have been opening at an incredible rate, and I don’t keep up well enough with the relevant blogs to hear about all of them. If (as happened recently) a new coffee place opens two blocks away from where I’m dropping my son off at school, getting a ping as I walk to the subway post-dropoff is great.I probably won’t keep the service enabled all the time (once, ahem, it’s available for Android, that is), but there are plenty of cases where I’d find it incredibly useful.

    4. Dave Pinsen

      I don’t get it either, but I think Foursquare (and Disqus, perhaps, to a lesser extent, which I do get) is an interesting test case of the VC model. It’s the kind of enterprise that requires massive scale and adoption to have a shot at working, something beyond the scope of bootstrappers and angels. If not for some big, patient capital from VCs (or, alternatively a cash-rich tech giant doing it in-house), it doesn’t happen. It will be interesting to see if it ultimately pays off.

      1. fredwilson

        that is so true daveit is also these sorts of things that have the most defensibility if they do get to scale

    5. Donna Brewington White

      I think it helps to think of social media as a frontier.  

      1. CliffElam

        I hear that, but I read a lot of history, and the things that drove people into the frontier are not the things driving them to social media.Nobody wanted to poke the indigenous people, though they certainly wanted to like the gold.-XC

        1. Donna Brewington White

          That’s the thing about history.Not everyone recognizes it while it’s being made. The ones who recognize it in the making will be the richer for it…one way or another. There are significant changes underway with social media as a key component and contributor. You don’t see that?Sent via mobile

  7. Rob Ganjon

    I want to run into Dennis Crowley in my office and have him demo new foursquare features for me. No wonder you like your job!

    1. Rohan

      it’s also taken him 30 years to get here. ūüôā

      1. dens

        Ha, this is the stuff I’ve been wanting to build since I was at Vindigo… ¬†literally 10 years ago. ¬†I didn’t sleep at all the night before we launched and I slept like a baby the night after it’s release. ¬†ūüôā

        1. Rohan

          Nice to hear from you, Dennis! ūüôā¬†I was referring to Fred originally i.e. 30 years before he has great guys like you show up at his office and demo features. :DAnd I hope you’re still sleeping well..¬†

        2. Matt A. Myers

          It must feel so good. I know I’m a good 2-3 years from being where I want, and if things take a lot longer than expected (including finding money) then I imagine my patience will get a good workout.

        3. Donna Brewington White

          You’re playing right into Fred’s description of the ideal startup founder, Dennis. ;-)But I know you mean it.

        4. awaldstein

          Thnx for this release. Impressive leap forward.Locational context makes sense only when I’m the center of the geo graph, not the space itself. Value for 4Square is all about ‘me’ for each of us and this starts to approximate that.The big leap to making location an extension of myself, is not simply explicit…me making a list of what I want and then 4Square finding it. It’s implicit serendipity, 4square knowing my interest footprint and delivering options that I’m not thinking of.I’m plotting a course to Central Park with check-ins and it starts to rain. I tweet and check in at Indie movie theaters all the time so the data set is there. Push a suggestion to see “Another Earth’ at Lincoln Cinemas as a weather driven change of plans.That’s a implicit suggested, geo-informed, personalized unfolding map of the world in front of me! An implicit concierge service, designed by my own actions, time and location sensitive. I like that vision!

        5. Fillycheesesteak

          now that it’s released, can foursquare start working on an app to get brian battjer to update his website more frequently?¬† as much as i like getting out and checking in, sometimes it’s nice just to sit back and let someone else do all the heavy lifting, ya know?

        6. laurie kalmanson

          vindigo! on my handspring! omg! and bus shelter infrared thingies! i am sure i still have my cuecat someplace

  8. cmutty

    Seems like a slight shift in philosophy for Foursquare: http://blog.sfgate.com/tech…This feature wont be “spammy” as long as the alerts are based on your to do list/past checkins. Great addition!

  9. William Mougayar

    The notification feature on smartphones is a huge thing and it’s what makes the device smarter. I believe this is only the beginning and looking forward to more innovation in this space. This can apply to many other areas – not just location-based.I love that it knows about your To-Dos and will alert you when are near them, or they are near you. Previously, To-Dos were a passive thing & I never used them too much. This livens it up.I can imagine how venue owners could peer at the aggregate To-Dos about their business, and fulfill that demand, and see clients walk through the door. I can see the trilogy of location-based data: people, places, activities.

    1. ryanv12

      I use a Windows Phone, and think that live tiles are actually preferable to the traditional “notification”. Right now the Foursquare app for WP7 shows your ranking in its live tile, but I’d actually prefer to see these suggested checkins instead.

      1. Tom Labus

        how do you like the WP7 phone?

        1. ryanv12

          The only thing I missed coming from an iPhone is the app library. WP7 has a solid selection, but could never match what iOS has available. The original IE browser provided was slow and outdated, but that has been handily addressed by their latest “Mango” update.Despite that, I feel it does a better job at presenting UI elements only when necessary. It also has deep integration with Facebook and Twitter (iOS5’s Twitter integration with photos is a joke if you are using WP7.5). This means that I don’t even need the Facebook/Twitter apps to use those services. Plus I can see all of these in one place without¬†Another thing people miss is that Microsoft provided cloud storage right from the start, meaning all my pictures and documents were accessible from anywhere. The real issue is that there’s been no marketing to speak of. Given Microsoft’s marketing efforts for other products, I have little confidence they would deliver anything but the usual throw-away advertisements. Hopefully the device makers pick up that part of it.It’s a unique, user-friendly platform, and if people opportunity/inspiration to play with it I think a good number of them will pick it over an iPhone or Android device.

          1. Tom Labus

            I think MSFT is extracting marketing bucks from the manufactures. ¬†The times I have seen the WP7 phones, I’ve been really impressed.I think it’s my next phone.Thanks for your insight, Ryan.

  10. laurie kalmanson

    coupons, offers; it’s augmented reality. hi <name> i see you are in the neighborhood. our special today is <trythesoup>, which you liked last time you were intuned right, it’s awesomeit makes the whole world a digital streetcornerwilliam gibson’s last couple books had a ton on augmented reality as art and history. walk down a street, see the images/video/facts of the past.

    1. Tom Labus

      In Gibson’s world technology is universal and in the background.

      1. laurie kalmanson

        yeah, it’s everywhere; it’s like water and fish

  11. Beijingperspective

    that’s awesome feature, taking social to the real world, love it.

  12. Dave Hopton

    I wrote about this back in June, link here: http://davehopton.tumblr.co…¬†I think this opens new doors into turning your phone into a full AI system. Combined with Siri, iOS5 is a serious new level of mobile computing.¬†

  13. William Mougayar

    Notifications is an area that RIM totally missed the boat on. Business data is full of notification-hungry intelligence. They didn’t do a thing about it that I know of. Could have been a game changer 10 years ago.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      RIM definitely lost or had no focus. I hope they secretly developing a bunch of things with good people behind those in lead, but I’m not sure that’s happening. Right now they need to just concentrate on not totally disappearing.

      1. Alexander Close

        And not letting email/BBM service drop for 2 days… (how did I become so dependent?)

    2. Aaron Klein

      Yes and no.RIM actually had the alert area showing you how many new messages, new Facebook alerts and new texts you had before anyone else did.They weren’t full on notifications but they were awfully useful, and I remember being shocked by the crudeness and difficulty of iOS 1.0 “alerts” when I switched to the iPhone 2G for a year in 2007.I went back to BlackBerry from 2008-2011. But sadly, I don’t think their software is ever going to catch up. So I moved to Android six months ago and am loving it (especially loving my update to Gingerbread this morning).

      1. fredwilson

        i moved from RIM to Android too and am so happy i did

  14. Dave W Baldwin

    Looking over the comments, I’m happy most of you get it.¬† Insofar as Siri, do not forget Nuance and Wolfram Alpha, for they are part of that system.The smart move on the Apple side is how we can affirm the direction of voice command and the other disruptions that can come about… remember this is iOS5, so think of what it will be like in the actual phone5 and/or iPad3.Android can match along with a third system, it is a matter of intelligence and the more stable platform in design/cost/longevity.

  15. Stephen Albright

    So now, with Radar, I can be alerted when I’m near a location on one of my lists, be it my personal “To-Do List” or a list of great food I need to try.¬† I also know where and when my friends are getting together after work.Shouldn’t Sonar be a feature within Radar?¬†Foursquare aims to “build something to help make the world easier to use.”Radar makes it easier to find an enjoyable social experience.Sonar can enhance that social experience.I’m excited for the Andriod app.

  16. academic papers

    Interesting program! I think it will be soon on other platforms … and under different names) are waiting for analogue but i don’t like apple OS ) Android better and more popular )

  17. Brandon Burns

    maybe a bit tangental, but what is it that VCs / the tech press love about dennis… so much to the point that his co-founder naveen barely gets a fraction of the mentions? with two equal brains, why does the one with the outgoing personality win? does not enjoying networking make you a bad entrepreneur?

    1. LE

      ¬†Dennis has more charisma.¬† The “it” factor as they say. Notice how much he smiles when he talks in this video.http://www.youtube.com/watc…And the same reason that the politicians who win are not necessarily the best qualified for the job but the ones with the best public personna and convey a certain feeling that pursuadesLike Fred said: “like the excited kid he still is”¬† Lesson: As Judge Reinhold said in Fast Times at Ridgemont High “Learn it. Know it. Live it.”

      1. Brandon Burns

        Your government analogy is spot on, LE… it explains both why people get where they get, and also why the government is so fucked up. It would be nice if the same high school politics didn’t taint the tech entrepreneur community.¬†And now we’re diminishing the power of the internet, taking those same high school politics and amplifying them online with a bevy of ways to game social media to rise to the top. For what? I’m sure there’s a quiet kid in, I dunno, the Ukraine who has something to share that I think would be cool. And I can’t find him until he gets enough Twitter followers to be important enough for someone to pass me his link.That was an unexpected can of worms unleashed…FYI, I have nothing against Dennis and actually think he’s a great guy. Just think there are other great folks/things out there that don’t get propped up as much as they probably should.¬†

        1. LE

          ¬†In certain respects I do agree with you Brandonbut let me take the other side of this.”I’m sure there’s a quiet kid in, I dunno, the Ukraine who has something to share that I think would be cool. And I can’t find him”Is it easier if you’re in the valley/alley andthe right age or went to the right college? Of course it is.But you have to keep in mind that compared to ’96when starting something required a T1, servers andbuying multiple O’Reilly books (along with the fact thatthere wasn’t anywhere near the usage as thereis today) there are now lean ways to startand yes you have social media and your ideawill spread if it is good. That’s a big advantage.And it isn’t dependent on followers either althoughof course obviously that’s an advantage.So let’s take the example of the kid in the Ukraine.He can spend some time building something (becausewe have to assume at the very least he’s a programmer,right?) and then when he gets his prototype togetherhe can use any number of free hosting services orvery low cost hosting services to get a siteup and running. Essentially he needs knowledgeand ideas but not money at this stage.”And I can’t find him until he gets enough Twitter followers”Ok. He can then post on hacker news or any numberof places. If the app or site has value wordwill spread. For that matter he could simplystart commenting on this site and that wouldget him exposure, right?In the end nothing can replace initiative andresourcefulness.As Fred said the other day:”i cold called VC firms looking for a shot. i got one interview. i nailed it.”Just because the world will beat a pathto your door now doesn’t remove the fact thatyou have to take on the responsibility toget the ball rolling.¬†¬†¬†

          1. Brandon Burns

            “nothing can replace initiative and resourcefulness.”so right, LE. if you have that, you’ll get something done no matter what. thanks for the inspiration boost.

      2. fredwilson

        @dens:twitter rocking the OATV t-shirt. sweet.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      “does not enjoying networking make you a bad entrepreneur?”Definitely makes it harder, unless you have a co-founder who does.Guess we’re back where we started.

      1. leigh

        Agree w/ you Donna. ¬†I hate networking (although i do it) and found a business partner who thrives on it. ¬†I’d much prefer hangin’ with my family ūüôā

      2. Brandon Burns

        you’re right, donna (and leigh). and that’s life. which is probably why we’re back where we started.¬†

    3. fredwilson

      dennis is the visionary founder, he has been working on this category of apps since 2000. he is also the CEO.¬†naveen helped him start and build foursquare.both are awesome, but their roles are different.and i would also say that Naveen is in the press a lot too. and he should be. he’s great at it.

      1. Brandon Burns

        a funny thing happened at lean startup machine this weekend… i, and a lot of others who “don’t like networking”, found their inner hype man. the common thread: it was the people who were super passionate about their idea/category.¬†on another note, a lot of the MBAs who want to “get into startups” without something specific they’re passionate about ended up quitting.

  18. David Shellabarger

    Considering Foursquare could have done this feature on day one of Android, it is disappointing it is still not on Android. However, I don’t blame Foursquare, everyone else is largely ignoring any Android specific features too.I think this is mainly because CEOs and investors are disproportionately likely to have iPhones instead of Android powered ones. I’m hoping that will start to change soon as Android has been innovating faster than iOS recently.Fred is one of the few Android proponents in VC that I’ve seen. It is refreshing.

    1. dens

      It’s technically different to do on Android vs. iOS because both handle background-location differently. ¬†We opted for iPhone first since parts of iOS5 were specifically optimized for the use cases we were trying to solve (aka: ¬†better battery life, better GPS lookups faster)

      1. David Shellabarger

        I haven’t used Radar yet, so perhaps I’m missing something but Android is very flexible in the way it handles GPS lookup in the background. Battery life is of course¬†dependent¬†on the phone model but I’ve had quit a bit of success running tasks in the background without killing the battery.I’m sure you or your team has read this:¬†http://android-developers.b…¬†but maybe its worth another look.¬†ūüôā

      2. Matt A. Myers

        What are your thoughts on PhoneGap?

      3. ErikSchwartz

        Locale plugin for Android would be the easiest way to do it.

  19. leeschneider

    Got my first Radar notification Tuesday evening. ¬†Suggested I check-in to a place I frequent but didn’t make the suggestion until I had walked about a quarter mile past the restaurant. ¬†Conceptually I love the idea, but I guess I’ll have to wait and see about the accuracy and timing of the notifications.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s very useful feedback.¬†

  20. Sea Monkey

    Game changer? – ZZZZZZZZZZZ. Another useless feature. ¬†FS (and social in general) need to move past the bells-and-whistles. ¬†Invent something that truly makes people’s lives better.Got to go – just got beeped – must be another FS alert.Really Fred: “the feature we’ve all been waiting for”??

    1. LE

      “Invent something that truly makes people’s lives better.”I can see this product morphing into “you’re approaching the Duane Reade and here is the list of things you need to pick up there.”

      1. Donna Brewington White


    2. SubstrateUndertow

      I think you’re being a bit too trigger-happy on your conclusions here. The mass-culture-adoption jury is still out on most of this social / location stuff.I sense that we are in the low hanging fruit stage, just testing the waters, just teasing out the most rudimentary internet social-fabric-design possibilities. We need to learn to walk then run.(sorry about the cliche addiction – contrition yes but without redemption efforts)Much more socially relevant, game changing, ideas are slowly coalescing around the potential for politically-actionable social-fabric-design. ¬†I thing these possibilities are trapped in an unavoidable shock-wave holding pattern.¬†The technological-innovation acceleration-curve has now hit its sound barrier analogue.With the emergence of cheap, ubiquitous, global internet access we have suddenly enabled organic, algorithmic, networking of everyone and everything in near realtime.We have crossed into new territory. Territory where almost every aspect of our physical, social and abstract constructions can now be cross threaded into an infinitely complex fabric of synchronous feedback loops.This allows us to dragging our whole world into a pure abstract information space and opens up a pandora’s box of both opportunities and existentially dangerous singularity crash points.Pointing the camera into the monitor type events.Stock market algorithmic trading snow ball effects etc. . . .We have unlocked¬†the secret sauce¬†the Mojothe essencethe soul of our realityinter-nodal standing waves of self-replicating probabilitypure information structuressub-atonic . . .atomic . . .molecular . . .amino acid . . .protein . . .cell . . .organ . . .organism . . .family . . .organization . . .state . . .¬†organic communities . . .organic democracy . . .the new-us-sphere ¬†. . . . . . . . . . . . . .¬†It is a future shock effect. The sheer scope and complexity that this technological revolution has unleashed is simply swamping our deign-cultural and mass-culture ability to absorb it . We are reaching our economic and wet-ware hull speed.This pure information-dynamics based platform-space offers such a panoply of rapid fire innovation gold rush, land grab, opportunities with each innovation triggering the next in such rapid succession that they start forming interactive compression shock waves. Shock waves that destabilize the the normative cycles of exuberant investment, shake-out crash and golden age commoditization as outlined by Carlota Perez in Fred’s interview.Note that when Carlota spoke of our contemporary technological revolution, the IT age, she broke it down into a two tier, rapid fire, boom-bust cycle. First the internet physical build out investment boom-bust quickly followed by the .com investment boom-bust cycle.Yesterday’s post by FredWhat We Are Seeingcould be framed as a sign that traditional patterns of investing in IT innovation are reaching exhaustion as these rapid fire App-space innovation waves start pile up, one against the another, creating tertiary inter-modal standing waves of innovation cadence that require a reconfigured investment strategy ?

      1. fredwilson

        i use this foursquare software everyday. it improves my life. i am sure it will improve yours too if you use it. i’m not joking, i’m not promoting. i genuinely feel that way

    3. fredwilson

      have you tried it sea monkey?do you have a rich taste graph built in foursquare? does it know what you like?do you follow a bunch of lists?if you say yes to all of those, then your criticisms are valid and important to understandif not, you are just a hater hating. and that is useless.

  21. Aaron Klein

    Yes, this is what actually might get me to use Foursquare. I’ve tried twice.The first time, there were zero benefits, so I quickly lost the urge to do it.The second time, there were some interesting coupons or discounts (not a ton, but you could see the potential). But it was incredibly¬†annoying to get home at the end of the day and realize you forgot to check in all day and those points were lost forever. It’s like “reverse game dynamics” and it made me quit.

    1. dens

      FWIW – this type of thinking is built into my product planning. ¬†I had the same experience with Twitter in 2007 – 2008… tried it, wasn’t into it. ¬†Tried it again, wasn’t into it. ¬†And then on the 3rd or 4th time Twitter stuck with me.We’re doing the same w/ foursquare (and we can see it in the usage / cohort numbers). When people “come back” these days they’re more likely to stick around ¬†I think we’re maybe 1-2 releases away from having that super-sticky experience.¬†

      1. Aaron Klein

        That’s awesome, Dennis. Kudos on all you’ve accomplished with Foursquare, even in the face of naysayers.I’m reminded of both examples – you and Twitter – whenever someone who can’t see where the puck is going looks at my company’s product and can’t figure out why they would use it.They will eventually. ūüôā

      2. kenberger

        i luv the new disqus tag and how it’s outing dens as a lurker here (‘frequent visitor’) ¬†ūüôā

        1. Donna Brewington White

          “Snob” regular.

          1. kenberger

            I’m the IRregular in this bar !

        2. paul

          maybe it’s just me, but i’d rather have smart people out in the world coming up with interesting ideas than sitting around all day in the comments section of a blog!;)

    2. leigh

      yeah i haven’t seen the benefit yet and in Canada they are even less then the US. ¬†Lots of potential and sometimes i think i’m just being stupid by missing it….. maybe the new feature will also get me to actively use it again….

      1. Aaron Klein

        I don’t live in a very urban area‚Ķso it was just a benefit that I could “see coming” for the most part. ūüôā

  22. Francesca Krihely

    Dennis was talking about Radar in this interview with Kevin Rose a few months ago. He also mentioned it at the most recent SXSWi. He spoke about it as if it was in the distant future, but here it is¬†It’s also a great interviewhttp://www.youtube.com/watc…

    1. fredwilson

      he has mastered the underpromise and overdeliver thing recently

  23. Neil Braithwaite

    Wow! An app that tells me where I am. When my life gets to the point that I need something¬† like that, chances are that I’ll probably have forgotten to turn on the device.

    1. fredwilson

      not where you arewhere you should be

  24. Judd Morgenstern

    Kudos to the foursquare team for executing like mad, but this feature doesn’t do it for me. Incremental improvement perhaps, but not a game changer in my mind.I believe services like these should support my behavior, not dictate it. Meaning I prefer the ‘pull’ vs ‘push’ uses of foursquare. If I am walking around a neighborhood and wondering where to grab coffee, I will use Explore or Lists, and this task should be communicated and resolved with good UX + UI, not with pushing extra feature notifications on the user.From a UX perspective, I think Alerts and Notifications often have a negative connotation: they feel like chores. Kind of like your phone is barking orders at you.In sum, I guess its a nice incremental feature for power-users, but not the sort of feature that wins new users to the platform. Anyone think this is evidence of them moving towards the tail-end of their innovative curve?

    1. raycote

      Yes – I feel the same way Judd.But then again I’m old school.The term PUSHER always has a negative connotation for me :o)<hr/>The only type of pushed operations I want are the ones I have explicitly preordained.example:Let me know whenthis particular type of itemorthis particular branded item orthis specific product codeis on salewithin X Kilo meters from my location

      1. JamesHRH

        RAY! – Are you the ‘two wings to fly guy’?

    2. dens

      > Anyone think this is evidence of them moving towards the tail-end of their innovative curve?Ha. ¬†We just getting warmed up.¬†I think we’ve got enough in our existing roadmap docs to keep us busy for another 5 years. ¬†(and when we feel comfortable w/ the rest-of-the-world using Radar and we crank the volume back up – back to to the way the folks at foursquare HQ have been experiencing the feature over the last few weeks – I think we’re going to blow a lot of people’s minds :)>>¬†If I am walking around a neighborhood and wondering where to grab coffee, I will use Explore or Lists, and this task should be communicated and resolved with good UX + UI, not with pushing extra feature notifications on the user.Yeah, but this requires that the first thing you think of when you’re hungry / etc is to pull out foursquare and ask it a question. ¬†We’ve had a lot of early successes that way, but that’s not the way that people are wired to think. ¬†In the early days of dodgeball we used to talk about “technology that facilitates serendipity” and I think the stuff we’re launching these days is still pretty true to that… “serendipity” being software that works behind the scenes to connect the dots and let you know about it rather than all of us walking around glued to our mobile screens all day long.

      1. Dave Hopton

        Totally agree. If you’re going to build a product that looks to improve human experience, it has to work around human behaviour, as you articulate in the last point. ¬†

      2. testtest

        In the early days of dodgeball we used to talk about “technology that facilitates serendipity” and I think the stuff we’re launching these days and still pretty true to that… “serendipity” being software that works behind the scenes to connect the dots and let you know about it rather than all of us walking around glued to our mobile screens all day long.objects moving to fabric.>>¬†If I am walking around a neighborhood and wondering where to grab coffee, I will use Explore or Lists, and this task should be communicated and resolved with good UX + UI, not with pushing extra feature notifications on the user.Yeah, but this requires that the first thing you think of when you’re hungry / etc is to pull out foursquare and ask it a question. ¬†We’ve had a lot of early successes that way, but that’s not the way that people are wired to think.¬†i’d like this to be predicted based on my past history. what time i normally eat etc if i’ve just eaten then i don’t want to be informed of good places to eat until i’m ready to eat again. connecting the dots.

        1. dens

          >> i’d like this to be predicted based on my past history. what time i normally eat etc if i’ve just eaten then i don’t want to be informed of good places to eat until i’m ready to eat again.This is exactly how our “Explore” recommendation engine works ¬†(tho the “ready to eat again” is kind of subjective)(and the Explore engine powers both the “Explore” tab in the app and our new “Radar” feature)

          1. testtest

            ¬†(tho the “ready to eat again” is kind of subjective)maybe. although thinking in terms of probability may be closer than a “ready to eat” or not (binary).¬†another example is how days of the week¬†influence what i would be keen to do, or not do. this may already be an input for the algo.i think people are inherently¬†predictable — with the correct data. it might be just me, but i find the question of “what did i do?” being transformed into “what will i do?” and then to “what should i do?” as a powerful¬†facilitator¬†to¬†behavior¬†change.

          2. testtest

            it would also be cool if the recommendation engines blended together when you’re with a group of people (friends); suggesting things that everyone in the group may want to do. the value of¬†collaborative¬†recommendation is greater than collective recommendation imo.

      3. JamesHRH

        Serendipity is for people who are long time and short of things to do.Lists are for people who are short on time and long on things to do.They tend to be mutually exclusive groups.

  25. Ben Apple

    One of the major reasons I read this blog is to keep informed on technology and stay relevant. ¬†I get these apps and try to use them but ultimately I just get overwhelmed. I guess I’m kind of with Cliff on this one, it seems like having more notifications is just a hassle for some people. ¬†But to use all of this technology the way it is supposed to be used, it’s game changing. ¬†I just can’t seem to manage all of these things in a way that will make my life more productive. ¬†I love hearing Fred and others talk about making all of these friends using these different services. ¬†For me, it seems like I just get lost in everything I’ve got running on my phone or computer. ¬†

    1. raycote

      I’m in the same boat Ben.I wish someone would just distill outthe¬†most stickythe most usefulthe most mass culture utility elementsof all location based Appsand clean package them for easy use¬†by the rest of ushopefully this will be coming soon to a commoditization shake out phase in mobile ?

      1. davidhclark

        I also agree.¬†We’re building it now.¬†Our mobile platform can enhance foursquare for those that want it to-but has many different uses and swallows up many of the mobile-feature-like startups out there today. We’re building THE mobile platform.¬†I’m starting a blog next week to capture moments and thoughts as we build- just for fun and accountability. I’ll end up tweeting about it if you want to check it out!¬†@davidhclark:twitter¬†

  26. William Mougayar

    It’s such a treat to have¬†@dens:twitter¬†¬†chime in on the comments. Fred- it almost should be a requirement for the founder/visionary to be participating in these Friday discussions. It really adds another dimension.¬†Dennis- while we have your attention, here’s what would make the recommendations much more useful. I’d like to tag my friends as experts in certain areas, e.g food, coffee, etc. and that way I can filter recommendations accordingly. Furthermore, have some way to bubble-up real experts about certain topics so we can see their reviews ahead of others. The risk with the current model is that these reviews can become endless like at Trip Advisor where you have to go trough pages and pages of comments before hitting the real gems.¬†

    1. dens

      Without giving away future roadmap, earning a badge for going to 20 different pizza places is kind of like saying “hey, you’re an expert in pizza places in NYC”. ¬† This type of thinking is being build into the ranking¬†algorithms. ¬†#staytuned

      1. William Mougayar

        That’s a very good example because I am a pizza afficionado and I do have a lot of pizza places check-ins, but the # of checkins itself isn’t always a good indicator of expertise. So you’ll need to account for some other signals, whether of social or non-social nature (e.g. if I’m known on Chowhound as a pizza expert, or if it’s Michelin guide who is doing the rating.) So, don’t rely solely on social/online signals. They are necessary but not sufficient to gage real expertise. #thanks

        1. leigh

          Mimico William – got any Pizza reco’s for Mimico? ¬†

          1. William Mougayar

            Nah! I’m biased for the VPN type. In Tor, only 2 places do a fair job at it, one other a notch down, and 2 more a total dismal job at it. Of course, I makey da besta one.

          2. leigh

            William – you have to go to Foodstock on Sunday —¬†http://www.thestar.com/livi… it’s about five min drive from our weekend place – and it’s a fundraiser to stop the mega quarry (www.stopthemegaquarry.com ) — our neighbor who is an amazing jazz musician is taking his wood oven and used to be a chef in Italy. ¬†He’s making da Pizza’s there. ¬†good cause – great food – you will LOVE it

          3. William Mougayar

            Leigh, will be there. I’m aware of Stop the megaquarry & know some of these chefs. We’re not too far from there. Let’s email.

      2. William Mougayar

        Dennis, Rephrasing my reply more succinctly : – I dont want to re-earn my expertise on social from scratch- There should be a way to take into account existing expertise- the # of checkins alone is not a good measure of expertise

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. William Mougayar

            Thanks Grimlock. For the record, I like Canadian bacon.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          3. William Mougayar

            It’s getting confusing now…Foursquare focuses on friends recommendations, not experts advice. If your friend happens to be an expert, you’re in luck! They can do a list then.

          4. FAKE GRIMLOCK




        1. William Mougayar

          Rolling in stitches LLLOLYou said it so graphically I literally bursted out laughing ^10

        2. fredwilson

          easy but not common

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  27. Donna Brewington White

    “Now, can we get Radar on Android and Blackberry please?”^2 ¬†I spent almost a week in Chicago for work, ate at great restaurants and then on the plane home realized I had forgotten to check in at all of them — same thing happened in NYC — ughhh. ¬†Lost mayorship at my favorite beach (where I walk several times a week) because I forget to check in.¬†So, yeah, Radar! ¬†I get so wrapped up in whatever I’m doing — would love it if Foursquare could remind me that it’s time to eat and tell me what my options are. ¬†And so on… ¬†Just tell me what to do and where to go! ¬†I’m busy thinking about other things.At first, I didn’t think Foursquare was worth it. ¬†Tried it out to stay on top of a hot new app but seemed like just another game and I don’t have time for games (although my competitive nature loves game mechanics in things I’d ordinarily do/use anyway). No one in my closest circle uses it — and roll their eyes when I check in somewhere (I need more tech friends nearby — or younger).But, I sat next to this really smart guy (IT consultant) on a flight once who told me that he thought Foursquare was one of the most brilliant apps on the market and would be revolutionary, especially for marketing, and gave me a detailed explanation as to why. ¬†Just wait and see, he said. ¬†He was convincing. ¬†So, based on that and Fred’s evangelism, I’m watching. ¬†And checking in. When I remember. ¬†But not on an iPhone. ¬†That’s my kids’ phone. ¬†So, get with it, Foursquare. ¬†And, btw, good work.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Was the guy’s name Dennis?

    2. fredwilson

      i checkin first and foremost to database my taste graphand my hope and expectation is that foursquare will leverage all that data i am giving them to help me do the things i most want to do at any place and time

  28. Ramon B. Nuez Jr.

    To be honest I can fallen off the Foursquare wagon. I have been using services like Hashable over Foursquare.Radar sounds interesting so I just downloaded Foursquare on my iPhone and enabled Radar. I actually see incredible value in being notified that my friends are getting¬†together¬†somewhere or that I should check “this” place out.I am also following the “100 Dishes and Drinks 2011” list. So I am very curious on what will¬†Foursquare¬†notify me about.I am also seeing this as a very nice tool for SMBs. Case in point — if I walk buy the “Chip Shop” I will be notified and maybe even sent a discount code to stop in now.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s great to hear ramon

  29. ShanaC

    I just want to figure out the list thing first.Actually, I’m on Android. ¬†I do want Radar to passively pick up my coffee drinking habits and name cool coffee shops to go to. ¬†I already see elements of this in search, and I do find it helpful.

  30. Seth Gold

    Sounds like the creepiest thing to me

  31. ErikSchwartz

    You could have made a Foursquare Locale plugin for android years ago.

  32. OnSite Time Tracker

    I have also written an app that uses this feature. ¬†My app will record the time you spend at locations you specify. ¬†http://itunes.apple.com/us/…

  33. Rayhan Rafiq Omar

    Will 3rd party apps (Globe, for example – http://GLOBEv1.com) be able to take advantage of the Foursquare radar?

  34. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    In regards to marketing I think Foursquare and instagram offer small brick and mortar companies much greater opportunity than GroupOn ever could. ¬†In fact I have already developed a couple of promotions for our products to run in conjunction with our brick and mortar retailers.¬†Now its time for me to breakdown and get a new phone….decisions, decisions, decisions….I have to admit that Siri and Radar are pretty impressive.¬†

    1. fredwilson

      totally agree

  35. nishantkdixit

    Radar is an awesome feature, but I would really love to see voice check ins down the line.  Perhaps if Siri on the 4S is open to third party developers it will happen sooner rather than later

    1. fredwilson

      great idea

  36. Roger Toennis

    Is there any possibility this Foursquare/Radar feature might be annoying to a lot of people?¬†I’m assuming of course that people can turn this off so I know that’s an option.¬†But the possible unintended consequence I see is this may bifurcate your user base in a way (Radar on/Radar off) that minimizes the network effects this feature is designed to enable.Are you perhaps starting to “long tail” yourself into a corner by continuing to add features to achieve an overall value prop that ends up being spot on for a narrowing slice of users, but not palatable to a big enough set of users to excite business owners?Also one other thing. I realize that the obvious value proposition delivered to businesses is meant to be “increase in total checkins”. But how does it deliver “increased checkins from customers who pay full price”?I’m not seeing how this does that and if I’m a business owner I may see this not as a plus, but as a minus.Sorry for being negative but just wondering.Cheers,Roger

    1. fredwilson

      You have to turn it onAnd once you do that, it is simple to turn off

      1. Roger Toennis

        Yep. Thats what I said in my second sentence; that I assumed ON/Off was the case. My real question though was after that part.Roger 

  37. Douglas Crets

    I’ve tried this out, and I turned it off. ¬†It doesn’t really do what I expected it to do. It is actually rather irritating. As you check into places, it alerts you to not one other place that might be of interest to you, but three, sometimes four different places. That’s not how checking-in has worked for me in the past, and I am not sure it will work this way for me in the future. I don’t want to be drawn to a place by the same service that alerts people to know that I am at, or was just at, that place. I want to know what people are there. The people are more interesting than the place. Now, if it told me that I am near a place where X was recently, I might be enticed. It’s more like recommendation in that way.¬†

  38. Richard Edwards

    Amen to that. Gave up 4S ages ago because it required too much of me to get value pack. I want(ed) a passive relationship that then prompted me to action when that action would deliver me value.It looks like radar may be what I was looking for.BUT…Android user, so…

  39. anoopr

    You just described part of the vision of foursquare!If you begin checking in on foursquare, we use your preferences to tune our recommendations engine, Explore, which delivers excellent recommendations, personalized to your tastes, your friends tastes, and the tastes of other users who match your profile.We also have Lists, which are Lists of tips and places curated by our user community. You can follow lists that you find interesting and reference them later.Radar allows us to use the context of your current location to deliver relevant and timely content about the real world around you. Currently we remind you to check in to places we think you are at and let you know about places nearby that are on your To-do List or Lists that you follow. We’re working hard to use what we’ve learned now that Radar is out in the wild to further tune the experience.As you can imagine, we’re super excited about the potential of Radar, and we’ve really only scratched the surface of what we can do. For us, Radar has already become an indispensable part of the foursquare experience. Hopefully it will be for you, too.

  40. dens

    I *love* this use case (as do a bunch of folks at foursquare). ¬†We’ll make this happen.(baby steps = have you seen what we did w/ History Channel? ¬†https://foursquare.com/hist… )

  41. Donna Brewington White

    I like the picture of you in NYC, Charlie. ¬†Hope you’re having a good time!Edit: *great* time!



  43. William Mougayar

    Thanks for the insight. Working hard to make sense out of user-generated data is where the big value is.

  44. fredwilson

    i love all the foursquare team activity in this thread

  45. anoopr

    Ack. I apologize for the marketing-ese. I’m actually an iPhone developer at foursquare.That’s an interesting use case. Were you thinking of something along the lines of explicitly expressing an interest in something like coffee, and then Radar would let you know about interesting coffee shops around you?

  46. markslater

    CRM –¬†the cancer that need to be cut out.¬†

  47. crunkykd

    Need the “i don’t give a shit” and “go away don’t bother me” filters.

  48. laurie kalmanson

    right x 2– users quitting because of spam would be a good reason not to– moving toward a paid, ad-free version would be a good opt-in

  49. Jeremy Chang

    Right! Though I doubt foursquare would actually go through with it …. after all, annoying your users (who are using your service only because of the fun/cool factor) isn’t the smartest thing to do.Well, let’s hope they actually don’t go through with it …

  50. kenberger

    Yup, the feature sounds fantastic, but this is exactly the concern everyone immediately has, so much so that many won’t even try such a feature. I know the 4[] team has a good response though.It took a dinosaur to first point this out?!

  51. JamesHRH

    Localized flash deals will not be a PITA though.A feature that is ‘you told us you wanted to know about deals @ X,Y & Z – they have 40% off A & B at¬†X – BUT, only for the next :30. And you are 246’ away from the nearest X store!’Foursquare’s sweet spot is loyalty.They want to do recommendations, but who knows why? I have yet to meet someone who says ‘ I would like an algorithm to tell me what I want. ‘

  52. jorgeortiz85

    We think we can build products that are as useful and delightful to users as they are to merchants.If my favorite coffee shop added pumpkin bread to the menu because it’s fall, I might be excited to learn that. If my favorite bar has live music this weekend, I’d be delighted to hear about it. If the wine shop down the street just got a new shipment and is having a free wine tasting this evening, that’s something I’d love to know about.It’s better for us, better for our users, and better for our merchants if we can build products that all parties enjoy. If we can do that, monetizing won’t come at the expense of the user experience. And we think we can do that.As far as push notifications go: you can turn them off at any time. If you don’t like them, you don’t need to get them.

  53. ShanaC

    Is it a bad thing if you fit into the profile of what you want and what the business wants.It could be like a local search ad.

  54. Mark Essel

    No doubt @arnoldwaldstein is thinking along these personalization lines and has a writer’s flair for marketing vision speak. The trick with recommendations is not to get pigeonholed. How many company creators also have a passion for authentic acoustic guitar shops (likely more than I know ;).Nice whipping out the rtfm above, may have been a tad harsh. I too fear over saturating my attention with distractions, unless the distractions are what I’m after.

  55. anoopr

    The signals you describe (going to Rudy’s a few times a year and liking custom boutique guitar shops) are all things that Explore takes under consideration when providing it’s recommendations. Tying Explore and Radar together is obviously something we’ve thought about, as we’re really interested in surfacing the hidden gems (or deep cuts as we refer to them).I think the use case around interest profiles you describe can be achieved with Lists. I’m not certain of that, and I’ll definitely take this feedback back to our colleagues who work on this stuff.

  56. laurie kalmanson

    stumbling on the unexpected is the beauty and genius of nyc; it’s what’s around the corneroldschool general interest mags that still survive — the nyer is the best example — offer a mix of who knows what, branded by a general level of excellenceif i only read about x because i am interested in x, i will be poorerif i trust an editor to bring me good stuff about y and z too, i will be richer

  57. ShanaC

    ooo, what was the coffee shop…

  58. LE

    “from the FAQ (come on Cliff, rtfm)”Why should he have to read the FAQ?Although you are joking you have to understand that most people don’t rtfm or rtfaq.¬† That’s one of the points of using social (as in even traditional “ask a friend the best restaurant or a good painter”.) Research and reading takes time and effort. You can have the best faq on a website and people will still send an email or call you rather than searching for an answer.And the longer the faq, and the more detailed, the more likelythat is actually.Marketing wise though I’m sure that many people are going to think the same thing as Cliff did.So foursquare needs to counter Cliffs point…”The *last* thing I want from my phone¬† is more alerting”…front and center in their marketing message.Maybe something like this:”Foursquare radar! – WOW – Alerts! only when/whereyou want them!” Then call the off mechanism”hush” mode or something cute so people remember it.By the way Foursquare doesn’t exactly dispute whatCliff is saying, this is what they say on the Faq:”Is Radar going to send me a ton of alerts, or just a few?It totally depends on how you use foursquare. ”

  59. Jeremy Chang

    i just don’t see users paying for an ad-free version of foursquare. ¬†it’s cool when i’m looking for a restaurant in the lower east side and the app recommends a place where my friends went to … but is it necessary? no. i can use other free services (like yelp’s monocle) to find a restaurant.¬†foursquare is a great and fun service, but it’s just not a makes-daily-life-easier service that justifies money spent.

  60. Francesca Krihely

    Ah! I love it Dennis! My friend works at a news agency and I’ve been trying to convince her add foursquare as a community engagement platform for the same type of check-in alterts. With Radar news could be cooler and more real-time than ever.¬†Huge congrats ūüôā¬†

  61. Donna Brewington White

    I just take for granted that I have options to determine how many alerts I get. ¬†That seems to be the trend.And I guess neglecting to RTFAQ is like neglecting to read the instructions, eh? ūüėČ But, it’s a fact of life.



  63. ShanaC

    Actually, this is a known issue in usability, and it is one of the reasons tooltips were invented.  Maybe 4square needs tooltips?

  64. leigh

    Yep – the kids are all learning experientially these days – reading manuals is a thing for over 50 crowd….





  67. laurie kalmanson

    i follow a local independent coffee joint on twitter, and i like seeing their menu tweets even if i won’t be there that daywhen a friend calls to talk, you don’t know what they want to say, but you know that you want to hear themif it’s a friend who you are no longer interested in hearing from, you don’t answer

  68. laurie kalmanson

    none of this is *necessary*i upgraded from the free version if imapmyride about 5 min after i downloaded it; fremium totally worked

  69. ShanaC

    maybe I didn’t know that I wanted it until the business showed me.

  70. fredwilson

    that is not true in searchand i don’t think it will be true in foursquare either



  72. Donna Brewington White

    Does “paid notifications” preclude there being a predictive element or preference feature so that there is selectivity involved in determining who gets what notifications?



  74. Donna Brewington White

    And here I just thought that not reading instructions was a guy thing.

  75. Donna Brewington White

    Can you qualify what you mean by “thing”? ¬†Are you just referring to things like devices and apps? ¬†Or would this include ¬†an airplane (from a pilot’s perspective)?Not being testy. ¬†But challenged by this thought.

  76. Donna Brewington White

    Will you be there for the meetup on the 9th?

  77. Donna Brewington White

    looking at flights putting together the puzzle

  78. Dave Pinsen

    You could always take the 37 Signals approach to feature requests.If you’ve been working on what I think you’ve been working on, we should chat at some point. I think there’s a big niche that’s waiting to be filled.

  79. Donna Brewington White

    You can lead a horse to water…Edit: BTW, I am aware that I am sometimes that horse whether I realize it at the time or not. It’s a multilevel conversation. I’m grateful that I get to play at some level.

  80. Donna Brewington White

    Hi — just saw the video — haha! ¬†Believe it or not had never heard this one before! ¬†Like



  82. paul

    sorry, but by “smart people” i meant those under the age of santa clause. by you’re avatar, i’m not holding out much hope for you ūüėČ

  83. peter

    plus one.