Foursquare recently announced that it plans to launch an app platform called Connected Apps. Connected Apps are location-based apps that will be built and accessed within Foursquare. Previously, app makers have used Foursquare’s API to create self-standing apps that users would have to run separately from Foursquare. On the user end, the only noticeable difference between these apps and Connected Apps is that the latter will display messages within Foursquare in a Connected Apps section on the post-check-in screen.
Since these new apps will operate within Foursquare, users are required to check in to locations to receive content from the app (assuming the app has content available for that location). I installed one of the preview apps called Eat This, Not That. The app, created by Men’s Health, recommends which foods to eat and avoid when you check into a restaurant; however, it has a very limited amount of restaurants and cafés stored on its server. I checked in to multiple restaurants in the area, but the only place it had recommendations for was Starbucks. This highlights a difficulty that many location-based apps will have to deal with – the massive amount of unique locations that Foursquare users visit.
As part of their attempt to establish themselves into a location-based app platform, Foursquare plans to add an app store, which they call the App Gallery, and a news feed to alert users about which apps their friends are using. According to the Foursquare blog, the messages that users receive from apps will be private, but the apps that users connect to will be displayed in the news feed. Users will be able to access these apps by connecting their Foursquare accounts to the apps without having to install anything on their phones.
What does this mean for online marketers? While it’s hard to predict how successful something will be before it’s launched, some critics believe this move could make Foursquare the “Facebook of locations.” Currently Foursquare has more than 20 million users. Once Connected Apps launches, that number is likely to increase (at least initially). Being one of the first to create a well-designed Connected App could get you extra users and put you ahead of the competition. Foursquare also announced that it will highlight staff picks within the App Gallery.
There are currently 11 apps available on Foursquare as a preview of what’s to come. The platform will become available to the public in a few months. For more technical information about Connected Apps, visit Foursquare’s engineer blog.