Feature Friday: The Multi Photo Checkin

I'm a huge fan of the photo checkin on Foursquare. When I see a friend checkin somewhere interesting to me, I always leave a comment on that checkin saying "photo checkin pls" and I usually get one back.

The checkins with the photos are the ones that stand out in the feed on the phone. And for that reason, I put a photo in almost every checkin I do. It just makes Foursquare so much richer.

But the killer move is the "multi photo checkin". Not everyone knows this but you can add more photos to a checkin. If you just open that checkin on your phone, there is a camera button that allows you to add more photos.

Last night my colleague Gary Chou was eating sushi and started doing a multi photo checkin. I begged him to stop as I was starving and hadn't eaten in a long time.

When Christina went down to OccupyWallStreet, she did a twelve photo checkin which I can't seem to find on Foursquare right now or I'd link to it. It's essentially a photo collage of her visit there. It is great. (update: Christina provided this link to her OWS visit in the comments.)

These multi photo checkins remind me of the blog posts Gotham Gal does on her restaurant reviews. In fact Foursquare could make doing a restaurant review on a blog a piece of cake with a slick export checkin feature. Consider that a feature request Alex and Dennis.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Rohan

    Fredster, thank you for the feature, I do.

  2. John Britton

    http://4squareand7yearsago…. is much better with photo checkins.Every day it emails you your checkins from one year ago. I’ll often use those emails as a starting point for a discussion with a friend: “Hey, do you remember this day? It was a great one.”

    1. Dave Pinsen

      I can’t imagine I was doing anything worth commemorating a year ago, but that’s a clever name for your app.

      1. John Britton

        Not my app, created by Jonathan Wegner. I travel a lot and check-in all over the world with lots of photos.http://cl.ly/3o3h0B1O2Y1j2Z

    2. fredwilson

      Thats a great foursquare app

      1. Bryan J Wilson

        As a frequent Foursquare user, but persistent skeptic, I really like this. Foursquare themselves could totally one-up this by adding a timeline feature to the app – a simple way to visualize where you’ve been (and what you’ve seen, thanks to photos) over time.

    3. Aaron Klein

      Slick. I’m waiting for Radar to hit Android…but this puts me over the top for trying to get into Foursquare again.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        This combined with Radar does take Foursquare to a whole new level for me.  Now just need to get radar out of jail. (Probably a misuse of the iPhone jail break reference.)

        1. Aaron Klein

          Nice 😉

    4. matthughes

      Hopefully David Freese checked in at the World Series game last night.

  3. JimHirshfield

    Audio check-ins? Video? That would be slick.

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      Don’t reveal the roadmap of foursquare 🙂

    2. fredwilson

      Audio checkin exists. You can checkin via the foursquare api with the soundcloud ios and android apps. I do that frequently

      1. JimHirshfield

        I hope 4sq puts it right into their own app via Soundcloud API.

        1. fredwilson

          me too Jim

      2. Eric Leebow

        I have a list of audio checkin apps (there are many really cool audio apps), and know of a streaming video checkin app, yet it’s not something I care for at this time.  Video is the future and it would be nice for those large classroom lectures. Isn’t it time professors require Foursquare checkins for class, and then throw a discount on the overpriced text books for the students who show up.  There’s a lot of great things that can be done for checkins, and I was talking to a computer scientist at CES who was experimenting with smells.  So, you can check into a bakery someday, and you’ll be able to smell cupcakes on your computer. 

  4. awaldstein

    Honestly, didn’t know about this.Photo check-ins by themselves were a game changer for me.I’ll give this a shot. We are surrounded by icons to be shared that tell the stories of place all the time.

    1. fredwilson

      Feature friday works! Thanks to richard for the inspiration

  5. Trish Burgess-Curran

    I have just recently started using photo checkin in Foursquare and FB.  I absolutely love it and, given the number of responses I get, others do to.  It just makes the sharing so much more personal!This multi-picture feature builds greatly onto  that experience.  I didn’t know about it but I can see myself becoming a fan of it!

    1. Dave Pinsen

      It may be fun now, but I can imagine a dystopian near future where checkins are no longer fun: they are mandatory, and used as a means of control.

      1. Tom Labus

        The Patriot Act.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          You and Kidmercury are on the same wavelength. I’m on a different one.I’m thinking of, for example, checkins as a requirement for government or insurance programs. So, for example, a mother on welfare needs to check in at the school on parent-teacher night, or check in at the library or tutoring center with her child x times per week, in order to collect her full check.Or a diabetic on Medicare or private insurance needs to check in at the wound care clinic x times per week or have his premiums raised.Come to think of it, those two examples aren’t exactly “dystopian”, but you can extend this out a little and see the potential for that.

          1. Tom Labus

            Nothing sinister attached to your comment.I had been thinking lately about info that we volunteer and how we would all go apeshit if suddenly the Dept of Homeland Security told us we had to “checkin” when we went for a loaf a bread.

      2. kidmercury

        they won’t be mandatory, they’ll be automatic; and the need for future tense is debatable, as the surveillance grid is in place via project echelon and unconstitutional collaboration between ATT and the NSA already exists and is documented.  

  6. WA

    Yep. We love the foodie photos.

    1. William Mougayar

      Also called Food Porn.

      1. Guest

        Porn is subjective. Tastespotting.com for centerfold displays. 🙂 *Wayne Anderman(954) 829-3837 C(954) 533-7750 O*

        1. William Mougayar

          Food porn is very exciting….for the palate.

        2. William Mougayar

          Hey Wayne, Speaking of displays…your signature is on display…maybe not intentional? 

          1. WA

            Due to relying from the email notification directly. thanks.  

          2. ShanaC

            you still need to edit that post.

    2. ttasterisco


  7. William Mougayar

    I just commented on your last checkin: “multi photo pls” 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      Ask and you shall (and did) receive

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        That sounds like”Ask Thee and thy shall receive”.

      2. William Mougayar

        Thanks. I will remember this quote during fund raising 🙂

  8. Douglas Crets

    Great, if you really want all of your experience of places to come through Foursquare. But what about all the competing photo location apps alone that do this? I find that saying that an app is great because of all the extra things it does is a lot like going to the car showroom and being told of all the great features on this here beauty.  I don’t care.  Give me an app that does one thing really well, and that will be my app.  Give me an app that does this well, and oh! this thing well, and oooooh! this thing, too…. then I lose my interest. Counter-intuitive? Or, do most consumers of apps feel this way?  I’m still asking the question, “What is Foursquare disrupting? What are they trying to be?” 

    1. fredwilson

      Are you serious?

      1. Douglas Crets


    2. William Mougayar

      I think there are different entry points to taking photos. I never understood the complete usefulness of Instagram on its own except that it allows you to broadcast and collect your photos. But if you take a long view on this, I think that photo taking is a feature that can find its place anywhere. In this case, Foursquare is a perfect example. 

      1. Dan Epstein

        I’d say the photo taking feature will grow in importance as more folks start to use their phone as their primary (if not only) digital camera.

      2. Alexander Close

        The main point that Instagram is running with is that they take your phone-camera photo – the blurry, shaky hand, low lighting photo – slap a filter on top and make the thing look real good.Who wouldn’t want to share their “expert” photography across every platform they can?

    3. Brad

      Although I do not use Foursquare (I travel a lot and worry about people knowing I am out of town and not home with the Family). I do not think they are trying to disrupt, rather create a category, I see lots of friends checkin in on Facebook but that seems to have slowed down considerably. Not sure how they view each other in terms of competition.

      1. Douglas Crets

        Interestingly, Dennis Crowley said in a video interview with TechCrunch a couple of weeks ago that they would either get crushed by Facebook or they would succeed against them.  But I don’t even think of Facebook and Foursquare competing, since the “apps” do separate jobs for their consumers. 

    4. kidmercury

      i interpret 4sq as a local ad network, competing most notably with groupon, livingsocial, google, yellow pages, and yelp, among others in that space. 

      1. Douglas Crets

        I am actually inclined to agree with you.  Foursquare does a  new kind of advertising. They advertise reality and they advertise in a meta way.  Like, you can follow a brand, and sometimes that brand will like something or take a picture of something and that is a new way of advertising.  Lucky Magazine, for example, goes around and takes shots of shoes and purses. I see that as a new kind of “magazine ad,” that is more about what is actually in the store, right now.  I also think something should be said about the Amex deal they have.  In that partnership, I think Foursquare is doing a completely different job. They are helping a credit card company track purchases and deliver deals to get their consumers to spend credit. And this is why I worry about Foursquare being too many things. Yeah, maybe they can do different things, but as a business, do you want to be many things to all people, or one or two good things for a whole ton of people?  

        1. kidmercury

          the key to foursquare is to develop a virtual currency and use that to incorporate loyalty discounts, behavioral advertising, social networking, and all that stuff into one cohesive package for the user. to really do that, though, requires the virtual currency to truly blossom, which is likely to run the risk of legislative attack by the state, as that is attacking the state’s profit center. based on their financing decisions and partnership agreements, i doubt 4sq management agrees with this assessment. foursquare resonates with a certain type of personality — an explorer, perhaps. such folks may find foursquare’s game play to be aspirational (i.e. earn badges and get rewards for exploring) and resonate with their value system; for others, like myself and perhaps you, there is no such resonance. however 4sq is gathering lots of good data in its current quest and thus has the assets needed to create a wide variety of apps that other personality types may find meaningful.  

      2. ShanaC

        I agree with you about this – however, for targeting reasons, the more data the better, to a point.  Including photos!

    5. ShanaC

      Well, what is foursquare to you.A number of close friends live out of state.  They also lag in adoption curves for these sorts of thing.  I actually use it more to track what I like and to see if an option is worthwhile.And pictures are helpful to find that out.

  9. William Mougayar

    Here’s an idea. If Foursquare wants to encourage users to take more photos, they could give more points to checkins with photos, and even more with multi-photos. That might be a great game-based incentive.

    1. awaldstein

      Yes, for some users.But photos are a currency in their own right. My sense is that if Foursquare can grab my mindshare to share photos via a checkin they will drive value naturally.I tired of the app for awhile. Just come back as I start to use photos more. I’d love to be able to post the photo as a checkin itself to Tumblr which is my prime photo distribution hub to Twitter and FB.

      1. William Mougayar

        You’re on to something…we need easy photo interchange from anywhere to anywhere, including insertions. But I think Instagram lets you broadcast to several outgoing locations. 

        1. awaldstein

          True re: InstagramI’m in app reduction exercise right now and honestly can’t use anything that doesn’t fall within my personal distribution system. That’s why G+ for all its benefits, falls daily outside of my use paradigm.

          1. William Mougayar

            “Personal distribution system” I like that. We have all become content emitting diodes.App dieting is good. We should have a #appdiet Friday where you delete an App you haven’t used. iTunes should give you an “App Usage report” so you can see what you are really using or not. It might help in the reduction. Even better if it can suggest another app that might be more sticky. That ties back to yesterday’s conversation on App stores being more interesting and useful.

          2. RichardF

            I went on enforced app diet when I moved from iPhone to Android.  I probably haven’t downloaded more than about 15 apps to my Android phone and I possibly had over 100 on my iPhone.  Admittedly I haven’t had time to fully explore the phone yet.For all the talk about their being way more apps on iPhone than Android I think there is only one app (Fstream) that I am missing on Android.

          3. Donna Brewington White

            ^2 “personal distribution system”

      2. Donna Brewington White

        “I’d love to be able to post the photo as a checkin itself to Tumblr…”Exactly — took a photo this morning that was really more fitting for a Tumblr post but, in the moment, had to resign myself to sending it to Twitter.

    2. Adam Bullock

      Just like ‘miso’ does, you get more points when you comment on a check in!

    3. Katelyn Friedson

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they go that route.  They currently give users more points for checkins that are shared with friends as opposed checkins that are off the grid, but Foursquare doesn’t explicitly announce this anywhere..

  10. chhhris

    Whenever I’m super hungry but too busy to get food, Seamless (web) comes to my rescue.Although eating take-out at my desk makes for a less interesting multi-photo checkin 🙂

  11. brlewis

    About your feature request, it looks like a third party could implement it using their API: https://developer.foursquar…i do wish they had a Media RSS feed, though.  That would plug into a lot more tools, e.g. John’s Background Switcher.

    1. Stanislas Polu

      We discussed with them about that (a realtime feed of the public photos taken)… It’s on their roadmap. But they need cycles :)Naveen even said there should be more cos working on the photos created on 4sq out there… and we can’t wait for them to really open their feed![ADVERTISEMENT ALERT]In the meantime: http://teleportd.com/api.html%5B/ADVERTISEMENT ALERT]

  12. William Mougayar

    So that’s like a bit of photo Tumbling into Foursquare. Very cool indeed. Check-ins with photos are definitely more interesting than ones without. That brings life and personality to the checkin, and it makes you imagine your friend in that location. It’s interesting that it makes you think about what they want or not want to reveal, whether it’s just the sign for a place or the full monty on the experience. 

  13. whitneymcn

    Funny that you mention it — in the past couple of weeks I’ve been noticing an increase in the number of Foursquare checkins with photos, and I’ve really been liking it. I didn’t realize that it was possible to do audio checkins through Soundcloud, though — I’ve got to try that out.

  14. Stanislas Polu

    The multi-photo checkin is really cool indeed. But what I find even cooler is what they did on the android platform: public checkin photos. It lets user add a public photo to their checkin which will then be automatically added to the place public photos.Result: a (Multi-Photo x Multi-User) checkin => An immersive Place experience from crowd-sourced pictures.Pushing this concept even further we think @teleportd that there’s a need to go multi-platform to completely fulfill the dream of experiencing a situation or an event from the public photos taken by the people there.Thanks for posting this: it incentivizes others to show what they experience through photos… and that, is just a new media; an unaltered experience, weirdly more complete and immersive than TV / Press.

    1. fredwilson

      yes, that is really sweet

  15. WA

    So away from this for so long…perils of posting while working…Shana and William-thanks for reminding me I posted signature…bad mistake.

  16. ttasterisco

    This concept reminds me of the description of Color that Nguyen gave in an interview. And also of Batch ( http://uncrunched.com/2011/… )Maybe a new area for 4sq to attack?

  17. LGBlueSky

    I like the photos with the checkin, but the phone gets full of useless photos which then a user has to delete. They get synced with cloud, Air and ipad and then you spend wasted time in deletion mode.  Maybe there should be a “delete photo” tool after you check-in. Maybe not FIRE, but perhaps some smoke. 

  18. Christina Cacioppo

    fwiw here’s the foursquare link to my checkin from #occupywallstreet: http://4sq.com/uxoNb5definitely fun to walk around and do the photo snap-upload so easily.

    1. fredwilson

      awesome, i updated the post with this link

  19. jason wright

    Numpty time. What exactly is a ‘checkin’?

    1. fredwilson

      the central gesture of foursquare

  20. Donna Brewington White

    I actually ran into this problem this morning! Should have read AVC first thing.This feature might actually encourage more checkins.  I didn’t think of checking in because I was just pausing on my drive home to take photos of this quaint, but locally famous, setting — but technically I was THERE and the desire to send multiple photos to Twitter/FB in that instant would have prompted me to think of this as a 4sq checkin. 

  21. Geoff

    I just wish you could easily communicate via foursquare if  friends  are checked in at a large venue 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      yup. i use commenting to do that, but something like DM would be super helpful

  22. ShanaC

    To those restauranteurs out there who may be reading this – I judge your place based on reviews, cost, and forn.  So encourage check in with forn.

  23. kenberger

    …or sometimes, more appropriate is the multi-photo TIP. There are 2 places to add photos: on the venue page, there’s a camera icon next to ‘Tip’. This is where comments and photos attach to the venue info and can be found later when some needs it. I sometimes mistakenly hit this when i meant to hit the checkin button and add the photos there (which is the 2nd place to add them).so the first method helps out the community and builds a much richer data set. I find this important and wish i didn’t have to keep going to Yelp to fulfill this. This seems more appropriate for the resto review.the second method is real time and much more social, since your friends are more likely to see them. this is more “check out how much fun i’m having *now*”.sometimes, i’ll do both.



    1. laurie kalmanson


  25. Reykjavik

    Don’t know about you, but I have app fatigue. Something has to be way compelling for me to add an app to my routine. Foursquare isn’t, unless you’re an 18-24 year old on a night  of barhopping. Doesn’t mean it won’t be sold for some obscene amount of money and get folded into a bigger platform.

    1. JackGateswood

      Agree. The only one I know who uses it is my 15 year old niece. Granted most people I know over 30 y/o probably wouldn’t admit to using it even if they did. 🙂

  26. Eric Leebow

    Yes, I love that Foursquare is doing this, and see some neat applications to this with my site in the future. I’ve at times forgotten about the multi photo checkin feature when checking in, unless there’s something really compelling about the place.  There was an app that was similar to Foursquare, yet they sold to Groupon and then closed. They were more aggressive about uploading photos with reminders and even prizes (ie. they gave away an Audi).  Maybe they should have a reminder of some kind, or when a venue is low on photos. There is a checkin app that does streaming video, yet prefer a multi photo over a streaming video.

  27. laurelfreyja

    I will confess to not being a Foursquare user; I’m not a huge fan of letting everyone know where I am. Thus, I only have a couple of check-ins, mostly to see what all the fuss is about. However, had I known of the photo-check-in, I would’ve fiddled with it more. Recently, I had a 12 hour layover in Bahrain and decided to check-in at the airport just to have a check-in from a country I’ve never been to. I also took a few pics on Instagram; had I known of this feature, I would’ve added it to my Foursquare check-in. That would be far more interesting than just a status about being in the airport!I like the idea of a place’s history told through the lens of its visitors. I’ve dabbled in creative fiction writing and would love to read a collection of short stories inspired by the photo check-ins of certain places. I’m going to file this idea down for the future in case no one gets around to writing it!

  28. Tracey Jackson

    I’m starting to really use FourSquare…when I remember. In terms of where I am I like it better than Twitter. It feels more organic and less showy. It won’t replace Twitter, but for where I am or where I’m going it’s becoming my go too app. Question, will be in Paris next week does it work overseas?

    1. fredwilson

      it is awesome overseasif you use it on an iPhone, turn on radar and you’ll start getting suggestions for checkinshttp://blog.foursquare.com/…

  29. Ranvir Gujral

    Interestingly, we were trying to make this process of adding multiple photos taken post-check in a little easier and at the Foursquare Hackday a few weeks ago we came up with an app called PhotoFwd that does just that. Sorry for the commercial post, but thought it was relevant. The About Foursquare blog wrote about it the other day: http://aboutfoursquare.com/…. Would love to know if any of you find it helpful or not. Thanks.

    1. fredwilson

      that is really neat

  30. Ian Gertler

    @FredWilson:twitter @thegothamgal:twitter @dens:twitter @naveen:twitter Love the @Foursquare:twitter restaurant review possibilities. Phase 1: check-in and review your food choices (w/ pictures). Phase 2: offer the establishments a way to embed their menus, where the check-ins and food reviews can accompany the choices … potentially with specials.