Feature Friday: Checking In Your Friend

Sometime in the past week, an awesome feature appeared in my Foursquare app. I was checking into our local farm stand at the beach and I saw this at the bottom of my checkin screen:

I'm with

Since I was with the Gotham Gal, I typed in her name and checked in with her. Then she got a notification and clicked on it and she was checked in as well. This Foursquare blog post explains how the feature works.

Now Foursquare is going to know more about me and more about my friends so it can make even better recommendations for us and others.

I really enjoy when new features crop up in the apps I use every day. It's a reminder that the developers are continuing to innovate on the product and trying to make it better.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Rohan

    The NSA are gonna love this!

    1. Matt A. Myers

      They already know though..

      1. pointsnfigures

        They know before you even go.

    2. jason wright

      the NSA probably suggested it.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Maybe even funded it! Kidding – but it does seem they throw money around.

        1. jason wright

          the CIA has a web tech VC investment portfolio.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            It’s public right? Transparency being important and all that..

    3. William Mougayar

      They know more than you know 🙂

    4. Dave W Baldwin

      I guess the next Weird Science remake will have the kid brining up where whomever is on the screen….

  2. falicon

    Cool…but his has the strong potential to force me to unfriend people in 4sq…

    1. Matt A. Myers

      I understand why they want to give the option to check people in, but if people were truly interested in having that known, they’d check-in themselves – no? Assuming they have the app, and if they don’t – well they don’t really care to check-in / announce their check-in or location..

      1. Hiptobesquare

        Dont build cool stuff, build useful stuff.I think foursquare is forgetting about the user. If you know a friend is there why are you notifying them?

        1. Matt A. Myers

          It has nothing to do with notifying them. It has to do with gathering information, to then provide better results for end users – and for other importance and metrics I can imagine..

          1. Hiptobesquare

            When you check in, you can tap “I’m with…” to add people you’re with. Choose your friends from the list.Your friends will then get a notification asking for permission to let you check them in.If they say yes, they’ll get checked in (and you’ll be able to check them in in the future; one approval and the feature is good to go). If they don’t want to be checked in, we’ll just ‘mention’ them as usual.

        2. fredwilson

          to remind them that they can check in

          1. Reallypopular

            nag_me_square, I have 100s of friends

          2. LE

            I know that you said that 4s just raised money again. And I know you said that engagement is up 50% since the beginning of the year. But I still see what they are attempting to do as not being low hanging fruit enough to reach a tipping point.Or perhaps there is a bit of an execution problem.For the “nth” time I’ve visited the foursquare website (you know like a normal in fly over country would) simply because you’ve mentioned it to see if it’s any more appealing to me.It immediately brought up a search screen that said “find great places near you” and had my town filled in.So I said “sushi” something I know all the usual suspects. It came up with a bunch of places but the places near me weren’t highlighted the places up near central NJ were.This is actually a great improvement over the last time I checked foursquare but it is still way way off the mark and gives me no reason or need to use this.You want foursquare to succeed? Have them talk to people like me who don’t use it and find out why and what would get them interested and engaged.

  3. jason wright

    raison d’etre – solution in need of a problem?farm stand link not linking.

  4. btrautsc

    hmmm this is one of those classic “sounds great on paper ideas”… it seems obvious that you should be able to tag others you’re with. But I’m not sold I (personally) really want others – even my friends – to check me in places.I love the “check in” concept – which we’re utilizing for reading & learning – just not sure I want others to check me in.

    1. fredwilson

      they don’t check you in. they generate a notification that allows you to check in with one click if you want to

      1. Matt A. Myers

        I think something I read stated if you don’t acknowledge it or don’t want to be checked in, you’d still be tagged in with the check-in?Is that not correct?

      2. btrautsc

        that makes more sense.Foursquare still knows I’m there and uses for future recommendations though? So essentially a non-public check in? i.e. it doesn’t share to my timeline/ friends – but it affects my discovery?

        1. fredwilson

          i think so

        2. Tohiptobesquare

          Show me the money. Show me the money!

      3. Tohiptobesquare

        When you check in, you can tap “I’m with…” to add people you’re with. Choose your friends from the list.Your friends will then get a notification asking for permission to let you check them in.If they say yes, they’ll get checked in (and you’ll be able to check them in in the future; one approval and the feature is good to go). If they don’t want to be checked in, we’ll just ‘mention’ them as usual.

    2. Matt A. Myers

      Also, from my understanding, this is just a form to get official permission from a friend – otherwise if a friend checks you in but you don’t confirm then you’re still tagged in the person’s check-in, so in a way it’s a moot point for privacy – unless 4SQ allows you to hide you when you’re tagged too?

      1. William Mougayar

        But once you’ve accepted being checked-in once, you don’t need to approve it again. You’ll be automatically checked-in thereafter. (read the blog post)

        1. Dale Allyn

          That can be read as “don’t need to approve it again”, or “don’t get to approve it (or choose to opt out) again”. Perhaps the option exists to approve once, but I hadn’t seen it mentioned. IMO it should be “always allow”, “allow once”, and “don’t allow”.

      2. Hiptobesquare

        This feature doesn’t pass the smell test. How do you opt out? Does NSA (or your boyfriend) verify if it is you who checked in vs your friend who checked you in?

  5. pointsnfigures

    A way to leave a viral crumb to get more users. Smart on their part. Not sure I would use the feature-but younger people will.

  6. awaldstein

    Fred—Is FourSquare’s dna to get more info so it can recommend new venues? Or is it a connection platform for people and places?They are very different and honestly, I’m unclear.If they want me to check in, the reaction to my action that justifies me doing this is___?Something in the back of my mind makes me think of Hunch. An amazing technology with quite astounding results whose consumer front end was unnatural so they had to take a different path.

    1. fredwilson

      well its bothnot every user wants a social network connecting people and placesbut most everyone would want the right recommendation at the right time

    2. William Mougayar

      Arnold, My reading on this is they are both additive to the “data sets” Foursquare is building. Their silver lining is in serving local/targeted ads and providing analytics to the businesses. So, some aggregate of that data is useful for that purpose.

      1. awaldstein

        Translate into consumer English.FourSquare data is invaluable as we know. But what is the core customer value/enjoyment?There are 6 words in my question and 6 for your answer–Why do most users love Foursquare?

        1. fredwilson

          I love it because I can see where my friends are, where they go, and what they love about the places they go

          1. awaldstein

            Perfecto!!!That’s an as campaign that feels right and may just have moved me to reengage.

          2. William Mougayar

            I agree with Fred’s punch line. I’ve got more than 500 pics and many more places posted on Foursquare, and it does say a lot about me.

          3. awaldstein

            Instagram with spatial coordinates?

          4. William Mougayar

            …although I don’t use the instagram workflow to check my pics into Foursquare. I’m used to posting straight to Foursquare, although it would be nice if FS allowed me to auto-post on instagram during a check-in (i.e. the reverse of what’s possible now)

          5. awaldstein

            This ups a larger point.For brands, generally, not street level per se, Instagram is honestly amazingly powerful as a channel for some segments (food and fashion for certain).You are in the business of marketing yourself. As a brand, does Foursquare help?

          6. Donna Brewington White

            That would be a great feature — except what would you do about filtering or cropping? I’m more selective of the quality of photos on instagram than on 4sq. Plus I wouldn’t necessarily want to show my location in the transfer to instagram.Now I’m seeing why it probably isn’t a feature.

          7. William Mougayar

            But it would be an optional toggle, same as the current Twitter/Facebook sliders,- so you do it only if you want.

          8. William Mougayar

            “I’m more selective of the quality of photos on instagram than on 4sq.” I’m not that fussy on that, personally.

          9. CJ

            Maybe there is a IFTTT recipe for that?

          10. William Mougayar

            #lobsterroller 🙂

          11. LE

            “where they go, and what they love about the places they go”This is more of a problem in a place like Manhattan or a metro area (say center city Philly) where there are so many choices of places to eat as one example. In the suburbs (forget small towns) there are slim pickings to begin with and you generally know all the possibilities.By the way with any of this to me the issue isn’t really what friends like or don’t like it’s what people like and don’t like and why.

          12. Dave Pinsen

            That’s an issue with Yelp in the suburbs too.

        2. LE

          “Translate into consumer English.”I read this while sitting at the deli and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed. But as I said I don’t comment on mobile. (I had just read William’s comment and said “huh?”.)

          1. William Mougayar

            That was Canadian English, eh! (not huh?)Re-read it s l o w l y 🙂

          2. LE

            I speak Canadian.To wit: “Turn about is fair play, eh? (“a”)”.But to your point one of my unique qualities is the ability to think on an 8th grade level and communicate in a simpleton way. It comes in handy quite frequently. When selling. Or talking to contractors, workmen and blue collar people.To me “additive”, “data sets” “analytics” “aggregate” mixed into that paragraph make it to grown up. NYT writes (from what I’ve heard can’t find a link though) on an 8th grade level.Nothing is wrong obviously with those words or your writing of course don’t get me wrong! It’s simply that mixed into that small paragraph (to me anyway). I’m sure others will totally disagree (so bring it on..)I planning to watch your Rohan realleaders.tv interview I’ve already watched Joanne, Jerry Colonna and JLM (which was great btw have much to say on that one).

          3. William Mougayar

            Thanks LE. I was playing with you a bit :)But my point is that FS has 2 products really: a B2B product and a B2C product. They are different and with different value props. B2C can be dummed down to warms and fuzzies, but the B2B side is a more sophisticated sell. + @awaldstein

          4. awaldstein

            Really don’t get this William. Overcomplicating it to my mind.They have a network that is based on users checking in. That is the tipping point at scale. w/0 that there is nothing.They monetize this B2b.An ancient model based on a new network formation.One model!

          5. William Mougayar

            Not sure we’re seeing this the same way. They have 3 products: a) a consumer one (check-ins), b) advertising units, c) Foursquare Business (analytics for businesses).Each product has distinct value props.

        3. William Mougayar

          This means they will use the check-in data to help them build data products for advertising and business analytics. That’s what I’m speculating is happening.

          1. awaldstein

            None of that means anything at all unless the value of the check in to the consumer is there.That’s my question! The consumer doesn’t give a damn abt that, they want value to them.

          2. William Mougayar

            They don’t, but they need to be occupied with what Fred described, knowing about their friends, etc… In the meantime, FS sells something else on the B2B side (see my response to LE too).

          3. awaldstein

            If there is no behavioral core value, it won’t work. You got nothing.The value of the data is irrelevant if there is no consumer motivation to spur the action that gives it.Facebook is a monster. As a company they are unloveable. But people go back and back and back. Motivation not value is paramount.Their problem is the opposite of 4square. I’d rather always start with a consumer motivation that is real rather than a data usage that is hypothetical.

      2. ShanaC

        local data is valuable if you can drive the lift needed in businesses – 4sq isn’t quite there, the offers are still far too generic

      3. CJ

        4sq is going to change advertising on the same level as Google. They just need enough runway to get there. Google knows what you’re interested in, Amazon knows what you buy, 4sq will eventually know what you buy and where you buy it. In my opinion, a merger or partnership of Square and 4sq would be a game changer. You’d combine all of 4sq’s location data with all of Square’s purchasing data, the potential to target ads and increase conversion should be incredible.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          One of the reasons I committed to being a foursquare user because I saw this powerful potential and wanted to see it happen. I know that 4sq has the potential to be a game-changer.That merger idea is crazy amazing.

          1. CJ

            Square is already interested, at least in check-in data. An acquisition or partnership just seems way too obvious IMHO. http://www.theverge.com/201…Oddly enough, I was discussing this with JamesHRH here about a month before that article went live. http://www.avc.com/a_vc/201

        2. William Mougayar

          I’m not sure that Square and FS are natural partners. That’s just my hunch, but I might be wrong.

        3. awaldstein

          That was the original idea, to reinvent the idea of local advertising as the contextual offer keyed by check in.Don’t know.Re: square and 4 square, not getting this. Square is an offline transaction completed between two people face to face. There is no online or POS component that I know of.What am I missing?

  7. DS323

    allowing you to check others in by proxy implies the userbase and engagement is decreasing. Death Throes?

    1. fredwilson

      actually their usage, engagement, and checkin activity has risen over 50% since the start of the year and they just raised $41mm of new money

    2. Aaron Klein

      No, it’s a way to make recommendations work for users who don’t check in.

  8. Shaun Dakin

    Bravo to the team for strong #Privacy protections:How it works:1 When you check in, you can tap “I’m with…” to add people you’re with. Choose your friends from the list.2 Your friends will then get a notification asking for permission to let you check them in.3 If they say yes, they’ll get checked in (and you’ll be able to check them in in the future; one approval and the feature is good to go). If they don’t want to be checked in, we’ll just ‘mention’ them as usual.Shaun DakinFounder @PrivacyCampFounder #PrivChat the twitter chat on privacy every Tuesday Noon ET

    1. Hiptobesquare

      Says who? How is this good privacy ? How do you prevent your friend from checking you in again in the future?

    2. Hiptobesquare

      Who anointed you judge of privacy ?

  9. andrewwatson

    Does this replace the thing where when I check-in at the same place as my friend and share that on twitter that it mentions them without me having any control over it?

    1. Tohiptobesquare

      Anytime your user base has to refer to a feature as “the thing”, you know your heading in the wrong direction.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Not necessarily. It’s when we are not using “the thing” that you have to worry.Although too many features on a mobile app begins to feel oppressive. Easy, relevant, beneficial keeps me engaged.

  10. loupaglia

    Makes sense. Actually a bit overdue so glad to see . This is a feature on Facebook that’s been there for a while and that I use all the time.

    1. fredwilson

      Its a great home for the team and my hope is with Samsung they can realize the vision that we did not realize as a stand alone company

      1. William Mougayar

        My 2 cents is I wished Boxee had a lower end product for the masses. I couldn’t make myself spend $169 on a fully featured Boxee, and ended-up buying 2 Rokus for $125 combined, and am very happy with it. The cloud storage wasn’t enough of a tipping point. There’s Plex if I needed extra storage.

        1. fredwilson

          BoxeeTV is $99 but didn’t sell well anyway

          1. William Mougayar

            I should have specified in Canada. Actually I just checked & Bestbuy Canada has it for C$ 179. Are there 2 models? http://m.bestbuy.ca/default

      2. ShanaC

        i know. this is a depressing moment in tv tech

  11. Donna Brewington White

    And on other fronts it looks as though you and GG will be spending some money! Your Donors Choose challenge has been met. Congratulations!

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. I really appreciate it. Passed that number (and 100 donors) yesterday

  12. Dave Pinsen

    Maybe Disqus can add a similar feature. If I come to AVC and don’t see a comment from one of the regulars (say, JLM, in this case), I can suggest my own for him (e.g., “Well played!”). Then JLM would get an email notifying him of my comment and giving him the option of approving it or editing it.

    1. William Mougayar

      I would love to have that feature. Actually, we almost implemented it at Engagio. We code named it the “swarming” feature.I want to be able to “drag” a friend or friends into a conversation easily.

      1. Tyler Hayes

        Motion seconded.

        1. William Mougayar

          Great. That’s a sure usage booster.

        2. ShanaC

          put to a vote?

          1. Matt A. Myers

            And then drag everyone into the vote.

    2. Dale Allyn

      If not the suggested comment as you mention, an alternative that I’ve always missed here is the ability to do @mentions even if the disqus registrant is not yet in the thread. This way one could “CC” or otherwise mention some who may have a point to add and they’d get pinged. It seems like an important way to draw more people into a conversation.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        This is huge! I want to be able to do this. It seems that at one point we could. I referred to it as the summoning feature. Made me feel powerful to pull someone into the thread. 😉

        1. Dale Allyn

          I agree, Donna. I feel it would be a great feature, and not terribly difficult to implement (compared to some things). There is a workload issue when looking at the whole database of Disqus users vs just those who have already commented in the tread, but it’s doable – if only on a subset of those who have ever commented at a particular location before. It just seems like a natural extension of what is currently provided, and more useful than what some companies might expand and innovate towards.

          1. falicon

            With a message/queue system, they could parse every message, find any @ mentions and then just check their accounts for those…a *little* resource intensive (at their scale) but well worth the price as it would absolutely drive more engagement with disqus…Just my thoughts/opinion of course…

          2. Dale Allyn

            We agree, Kevin. Sure it takes some resources to do it at Disqus’ scale, but as you say, it would be worth it to bring people into a conversation.If fact, if they wanted to go much lighter, and if they wanted more people to follow others, start with being able to ping (“summon” 😉 those whom you follow (on the Disqus dashboard), but who have not yet commented in the current thread. IMO we’d all start adding more people to our follow lists.

          3. Donna Brewington White

            So true about the follow lists.Disqus has a Product Manager opening right now that may address some of our concerns: http://disqus.com/jobs/#Pro…The job description says “The satisfaction of commenters and publishers is a key metric.” Yesss!I vote that they hire from within the AVC community or at least a consultant from here. Who gets this engagement thing or craves it more than the people here? And they need someone with strong UX sensibilities which I don’t see in the job description.Any takers?For the record I am very proud of Daniel and team and this brilliant product that they have created. I can’t imagine life without it. But there continues to be a UI/UX disconnect and something falls short in the engagement area and I wonder what that is all about.

          4. Dale Allyn

            Right, Donna. I hope that Daniel and the great Disqus team know that we engage in these conversations about their product with the best of intentions, respect, and highest hopes for Disqus. This is sincerely engaged feedback.I’m a fanatic (obsessive fanatic? 😉 regarding UI/UX. I’ve said it before: The User Experience is everything. 😉

          5. ShanaC

            wish I could – though I know someone very community oriented who would be a good match (taking a ux course now kind fo thing)

          6. Donna Brewington White

            Which counts for a lot because you actually know if it is doable and how to do it. I can only fill out wish lists. I need to get on that codecademy course and now there is a GA near me! Who knows I may someday give you a run for your money. (Not)

          7. Dave W Baldwin

            You are right and it comes down to it being well worth the price. Then set keyword topic matching/related to other. Then a more “from above” looking down feature could develop that would become more platform oriented.

        2. CJ

          I remember that one as well, I miss it and the titles. Those were fun. I think Fred’s blog is in Disqus’ version of labs so a lot of what we see here may never end up in Production. That’s my theory anyway.

    3. fredwilson

      I could comment for Kid if he’s away. It wouldn’t be quite the same but I think I could do a passable job

      1. Donna Brewington White

        It’s not what you say so much as how you end it.In fact there was a time when Kid was taking a hiatus and I missed him so much that I thought of ending some of MY comments that way in remembrance.

    4. Donna Brewington White

      Very cool. Want that.Also, gives me an idea for a fun matching game. A list of representative sayings and then a list of regulars to match them to.#AVCpartygames

      1. andyidsinga

        AVC apples to apples card game

    5. CJ

      I want a Disqus app that can allows me to subscribe to blogs that use disqus and read the posts right in the app. After reading, if I chose to comment, the app loads up just the comment section separately using whatever wizardly necessary to ensure that it works well on mobile devices.Currently posting via mobile is a pain. Oh and I’d like to get rid of the bug where the cursor disappears when trying to click near the end of a sentence in Chrome causing the focus to shift back to the browser instead of being in the test box. Now how do I summon a Disqus admin again? @disqus

      1. PhilipSugar

        I totally and completely agree with this comment. Especially the bug. The worse is that if you lose the cursor and you are using the backspace key to edit a comment that has not yet posted you delete everything that you’ve typed. I have not posted many comments because of this.

        1. LE

          Agree with the bug issue I’ve had that with Firefox.As far as mobile though I wonder if that’s, um, a feature not a bug. After all it’s probably much harder for a commenter to put together a coherent well thought out typo free comment on mobile than on a keyboard. (That said I don’t think that’s why it’s a bad experience I just think they don’t have the time to fix.)I have never ever made a comment by mobile. I never plan to.I almost never reply to an email by mobile. I don’t like to be constrained by a small mobile screen and as a fast typist I like keyboards. Period.In general I also find that people who send me emails that are done on mobile take my time and energy to play a guessing game because of the lack of detail they give as far as what they want or what they are asking. That shifts the burden to me to figure it out. [1] I don’t like that. Almost as much as I don’t like emails that are so long and ask so many things you don’t even know where to start.[1] Add: And then I have to write more and think more to account for many possible decision tree replies.

          1. CJ

            Swiftkey. I’ve used my phone to write entire short stories with it, I could totally use it on the train to write a decent comment. Though, I admit, I was much more productive as a typist using my old Blackberry with full physical keyboard and programmed shortcuts. That thing was awesome for text input and the speakphone…that’s about all though.

          2. LE

            Swiftkey appears only for Android it seems?

          3. Andrew Kennedy

            “I have never ever made a comment by mobile. I never plan to.”I get this sentiment. That said, I have been totally impressed by iPad keyboards that attach to the device that basically replace the need for a laptop. Tablet with keyboard is still mobile in my book. Your aversion to mobile commenting is just like my aversion to strangers… It’s something I have to work on everyday to get comfortable with, but in the end adds a lot of value.

        2. CJ

          Not only do you lose everything, I’ve occasionally backspaced away from the site complete and ended up 3 sites deep in my history before I noticed. So annoying.

          1. PhilipSugar

            Totally correct.

    6. andyidsinga

      FUN : right beside “reply” need a “masqeurade as….” or “channel someone…” opton.the feature has a limited set of options …ex. one liners etc that the real person would actually configure in their dash board and make aailable to everyone.for JLM there are two: 1) “well played”2) blog post comment : three to four paragraphs of his choice wisdom ..in a generic, universally applicable form.

      1. Dave Pinsen

        I can’t believe so many of you liked my idea – I was being ironic. I think this Disqus feature would lead to a lot of mischief, just as the ability to check in others on foursquare has a lot of potential for mischief. I can imagine teenage girls checking in their friends at planned parenthood, guys checking in coworkers at strip clubs, etc.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          I agree that commenting on behalf of someone else would be problematic. I think what we grabbed onto was the idea of engaging people and drawing others into the stream. When a blog becomes a community then it becomes bigger than who is commenting at a particular point in time. When someone’s voice is missing and that voice would be particularly relevant to the matter at hand, the void is felt.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Good point and well said, DBW.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            Thanks, Dave.

  13. Tyler Hayes

    I’d love for them to open this up via an API now. I actually use Foursquare most often via other apps — Path, Instagram — and it’d be nice to have Foursquare recognize when I say who I’m with in Path for example.

    1. fredwilson


  14. markslater

    you obviously dont use facebook fred. This has been a feature for years there….it becomes a topic of healthy friction in my circles when people ask for permission to check others in…..

    1. fredwilson

      I’ve never used Facebook. I just pump content in there for others to see and I used to stalk my kids there when they used to use it. I don’t think I have ever posted anything on FB

      1. LE

        “I used to stalk my kids there”I’ve always found that it’s detrimental to stalk if you can’t raise or identify how you found the information. So I’ve never ever done anything like that with anyone close no matter how much I’d like to (it’s not for lack of curiosity). But more importantly there is a gray area in the info you find. If you can’t ask questions (because to do so would identify that you have stalked) about something you saw you will be left constantly wondering if you are on to something or not. And then if you say nothing you will just end up being worried.

        1. Aaron Klein

          There is no reason not to mention what you saw.My wife recently saw her teenage sister instagram a few photos with a hashtag that seemed to signal she was depressed.True love is what my wife did: making that call and saying “I saw this in Instagram and I’m concerned about you.”

  15. Guest

    1) I don’t like to be outed2) I like when I don’t have to do the checking in myself3) I’m not sure which is more important. Probably 1, but for heavy users, 2 is a great convenience.

  16. ShanaC

    I’ve used this – but I would say be careful – some people would be annoyed if you did this.Facebook pissed people off with this – and I’m in a period where I am a bit on the dl on fsq (pity, I like checking in)

    1. andyidsinga

      i just saw this feature and had similar thoughts.funny thing is, one of my co-workers always teases me about my social network use – especially foursquare – and for about a a year i’ve been teasing him about how i’ve been “checking him in” to various places!!greaaaaat, now i cant use that anymore – thx 4^2 🙂