Just deleted Foursquare. Come at me Facebook!

Just deleted Foursquare. Come at me Facebook!

App sprawl is becoming a thing. This evening I opened Foursquare to check into a great new local restaurant I went to, hit the big, honking check it button, and was told to download Swarm. It wasn't an ad. It wasn't something I could dismiss or get around and go on about my check-in business. It was an eviction notice telling me my check-ins within the Foursquare app proper were no longer welcome. I'm sure it's been like that for a while. I almost exclusively use Foursquare when I travel and I haven't traveled since June. Rather than download Swarm, however, I deleted Foursquare. So, now that Facebook is evicting instant message, will that be next?

It used to be that you went to a social app and everything you could possibly want to do on the network was made available to you. Facebook the app let you use Facebook the service. It was just that simple. Then Facebook began making dedicated apps. Facebook Messenger. Facebook Camera. It was almost like they were seeding all the apps they needed to make for their secret phone project before they announced it... But the phone hasn't materialized. Instead, Facebook Poke and Facebook Slingshot followed, two of the most ill-considered apps to ever see release from a major modern tech company.

Foursquare copied the strategy with Swarm, and Instagram did like its new parent with Bolt. (Twitter gets a pass on Vine since they bought it as an app-in-progress.)

It's attention hoarding. Like a commercial cleaning product desperate for shelf space at the grocery store, these are services desperate for space on the Home screen. One product, one shelf or slot. A dozen products, a dozen shelves or slots.

Yet product sprawl makes shelves in groceries more difficult to navigate. Do I want mint, spearmint, peppermint, complete, total, whitening, mint complete whitening, white total spearminting? Gah. Just give me a tube!

Likewise, Instead of knowing I go to the Facebook or Foursquare or Instagram app to use Facebook or Foursquare or Instagram, my cognitive load is now increased by having to remember and find which app to go to for which context I want to use.

Foursquare was a check in app for me. It helped invent check-ins, after all. So, if it's no longer useful for check-ins, I no longer have a use for it. Sure, it's got discovery and recommendation aspects as well, and good ones, but those don't interest me much. Hence, deleted.

Will Facebook now suffer the same fate? Bereft of messaging will my Home screen soon be bereft of Facebook.app? Probably not. I don't really use Facebook as a messaging service. I use iMessage and Twitter. Sure, I get Facebook messages sometimes, and it's convenient to have them in the main Facebook app (though Chatheads continue to annoy), but with notifications I can just tap and go right into Messenger without thinking about it anyway.

I do think it's hostile to evict functionality from an app, however. I think people who use Facebook Messenger a lot have a legitimate cause for grievance.

Focus is fine. Dedication is fine. But scattering functionality across a bevy of apps isn't necessarily either of those things. It smacks of sprawl, which is neither focused nor dedicated. It's attention hoarding. It's avarice. And as a strategy it may backfire.

Maintaining the same functionality across two apps, so those who want dedicated can have it but those who want integrated don't lose it might cost more in terms of resources, but we're talking about some of the biggest and richest companies in tech here. If anyone can afford to take a hit to avoid hostility, it's the Facebooks and Foursquares of the social world.

If you use Facebook or Foursquare or Instagram, let me know — do you like the new splinter apps or do you prefer all your social services glommed together in the same place?

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Just deleted Foursquare. Come at me Facebook!


Wait, Rene shares his birthday with Harry Potter? How does Ally feel about that? Does she go completely fangirl? :p

Happy birthday mate!

I feel the same way Rene. Tried Swarm when it first came out. Lasted all of 5 minutes on my phone. Then I decided that if Foursquare was going to become Yelp, then I didn't need Foursquare because I have and love Yelp. Foursquare was then deleted. I won't install Facebook Messenger because of its intrusive EULA permissions, so I guess people will have to reach me the old-fashioned ways, like SMS or maybe...calling me?

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Permissions aside, I think this whole problem is techies being dramatic. Install Facebook messenger and hide it in a folder or an alternate home screen. You don't need it have it take up an extra space on a homescreen... You get a fb instant message then your notifications are in your pull down drawer, you want to initiate a message? Great, you can still select Messenger from the Facebook app and be transported to the Messenger app, with a nice big banner at the top ready to put you in your last spot in the Facebook app. I don't see what the problem is.

I don't think it is being dramatic to not install facebook messenger or to dislike them spreading things out over multiple apps. About the only case I could see for multiple apps would be a facebook personal and facebook business/fanpage. That way you could easily keep personal and business separate and not accidentally mispost.

I'm with you Renee. The last time I opened Foursquare and it wanted to check in, I just said "forget it I won't bother checking in." After reading your article I delete Foursquare and downloaded Swarm. But I don't know that I'll remember to use it in the future...

I hate splinter apps. Already dreading having to download facebook messenger. Glad i still have the old version of foursquare and can still check in

Agree 100%. I hate having to use 2 or 3 apps for what one should be able to do. I refuse to download extra apps.

Heck, I even use Informant for a calendar because it integrates calendar, reminders, notes, and contacts all in one app.

I hate the split! The tips on foursquare are nowhere as useful as the tips and reviews on Yelp, and you can still check in on yelp. In fact, the UX of Yelp is actually quite good for both reviewing and checking in. Foursquare's UX is terrible and always has been. This divide makes it worse and makes one decent app into two weak apps that are irrelevant to me.

Totally agree, Rene. I only use FB messages occasionally when I don't have an alternate why to contact someone. That I now have to download another app for that is annoying at best. And unnecessary. I do like to use Foursquare for discovery, especially when traveling, but I also think it's silly that I can't check in to the places I discover and easily share them with friends. Makes no sense!

I use Facebook Messenger because A) the Facebook app is TOO SLOW on my iPhone 4 and B) I actually LIKE the app. I have no reason for Instagram's splinter app, and Foursquare will be deleted soon since I've begun using Yelp more often. I haven't even TRIED Swarm; the powers fixed something that wasn't broken. Oh yeah...I have Slingshot, but none of my friends have it. Oops!

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I've never used foursquare and never even heard of swarm. If I do a check-in I do it on Facebook.

I do use Facebook and Facebook messenger a lot. I've had the messenger app since it came out. I think the experience is superior with the apps separate. There was a lot of cross fire with normal notifications and actual messages with just the single app. Resulting in missed messages. Also I feel like they are two different services and I use them differently so two apps are justified.

Those are the only two Facebook apps I need. I'm also not interested in any other spin off services from these other apps.

-Beamed from my Moto X via the iMore App.

Deleted Facebook and Foursquare and Google Drive (Most seem to have forgotten about this one splintering also). Facebook got deleted for the double whammy on the stupid auto-refresh while I'm trying to do something and the removal of messaging.

It's a disjointed experience that is not in the interest of the user. TLDR: it sucks =P

Happy birthday, Rene!

I hate that I have to download a thousand different IM apps because none of my friends can seem to agree on which IM app to use. WhatsApp, SnapChat, iMessage, Viber, Tango, Messenger, Hangout...whatever happened to SMS, especially now as phone use as permeated to every segment of society now? Ugh!!

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Yes, given that many people have either the iPhone, a premium Android that doesn't have an expansion slot, or a later version of android that still doesn't permit loading apps from an SD card on the smallest but most affordable hard drive version of some cheap Android, and with each ecosystem's OS taking up more space, and apps' caches forever increasing inside, these splinter apps will increasing take up precious space on a phone's hard drive, especially if you have less than 16GB of hard space or less. Now, I have a 32GB iPhone that I just freed up a lot of space from apps I never ended up using, but the point remains the same: creating multiple apps takes up precious space on a phone's hard drive. Many of still prefer to carry (at least part of) our music and photo collections with us. If your app is getting so busy you need to spin off certain things into their own apps, to me that is a sign of poor planning, programming, and app development.

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Incoming lengthy post.

I believe that Facebook splitting its messenger from its original app is fine. Unlike Foursquare, fb still keeps it's core features in its original form. Hence why you wouldn't see that many people bothered by it.

There are so many messaging apps out there, such as Whatsapp, iMessage, Viber, Telegram, Skype and oh so much more. I'm lead to believe that people have a bigger preference to message on other platforms than FB nowadays.Facebook Messenger still feels like an "optional" part of its core system. Users can still visit a web page to see their messages.

As for Foursquare, it has done a horrendous split into two apps and thy continue to promote it as an innovative move. They have completely removed its core, fun aspects of the app which has disgruntled thousands of its users out there - especially their loyal hardcore superusers.

Foursquare is built by the community and is open source. With that many people leaving, I'm reluctant that their database will be any better by the end of this year.

Foursquare could have created a completely new app without the need to sacrifice the fun core features of its main app to water down its app.

To replace is not to improve and that's exactly what Foursquare has done.

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For me, I think it's a sign of laziness. "Lets just break the app apart instead of actually working to alleviate some of the grievances a lot of users have and improving functionality in ONE app." It's just like you said, navigating to the specific app to fit my needs is way more harassing than just going to the native app and checking-in, messaging, etc. I hope they all get a huge backlash from this and revert to the old way. As for now Foursquare/Swarm, whatever, has been deleted.

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I used FS and Yelp equally, now.. just Yelp.. too bad really.. but I'm not going let me swarm me with a bunch of apps.. Deleting it was my way of voting NO.

One of the advantages of apps as I see it is that they gave us all the access to something, ie Facebook, in one location, rather than fighting a web interface, or just not having access at all. Now they seem to be back tracking, making life more complex again. I had a Foursquare account long ago, and only recently put it back on my phone due to an article i read on iMore, but if they are backtracking to make my life more complex and difficult, rather than easier, I agree, its gone. Facebook messenger I put up with, barely, only because they have made it almost seamless to move between the apps. These developers need to learn to add functionality, not bloat. I use my phone to do things faster, and to make tasks simpler, not the opposite.

Sounds like most of the people crying about Facebook having two apps don't even use messenger. I use messenger all day and never get on Facebook at all, that's why it's nice having two apps I don't have to load the Facebook app at all. The messaging part of the Facebook app sucked anyways. The groups on messenger are awesome I never use SMS unless someone don't have Facebook. I almost hate getting SMS after using messenger for so long it's just so much better. The other part I like is I can make phone call with my iPad mini to anyone that has the Facebook messenger app also.

Foursquare have gone the way of gowalla who had a wonderful app which they they destroyed. Surely the time is right for someone to create an app which pulls together what was great about those toe checkin apps to create the definitive one.

Rene, I use Foursquare all the time for check-ins while traveling and when I'm out and about around town. I sometimes look at the tips. I downloaded Swarm, and it appears to serve a dual purpose. It feels as though Swarm is a substitute for Foursquare as they finish up the "new and improved" Foursquare. Secondly it appears to be an app used to show you where your friends are in close proximity to your location. That's not for me as most of my friends aren't using Foursquare, Swarm or any check-in oriented app. Plus I like to plan outings and meetings rather than "popping up" on people. I received an email yesterday from Foursquare talks about how personalized Foursquare will become and how important Tips from others will become. Here is a link to the Foursquare blog. http://blog.foursquare.com/post/92636287198/a-brand-new-foursquare-with-...

Renee, I use the Facebook app, but I have not downloaded Messenger. I think they should leave Chat integrated into the Facebook app. I'm not thrilled about the separation. How do you and/or the rest of the iMore community feel about LinkedIn's multiple apps?

The pundits want the same thing to happen with iTunes. iTunes is great at managing all your media, music, TV shows, movies, podcasts, etc, syncing everything when you connect your device, organizing everything just fine. But the pundits all claim it's an overbearing mess, and should be broken up into individual applications for each type of media. I don't have these problems, I am happy to say, the current system works just fine for me. It's already happened with the Podcasts app, so I assume they want the same thing to happen with separate applications to handle music, apps, movies, TV shows, etc etc, each type of media creating little fiefdoms, each with limitations on what they can do, forcing the user to jump through hoops in order to get everything synced with our phones again. I don't like this trend at all, but you pundits asked for it, now don't complain when Facebook and Foursquare start doing the same thing with their apps, breaking out functions and pieces into separate apps. Again, you asked for it!

I also deleted foursquare for the exact same reason Rene, separating into two apps was a pretty dumb move on their part and while Foursquare may be a good discovery app I used it mainly as a combined discovery and check in app so using two apps for that purpose does not appeal to me in the slightest.

I think Facebook might just about get away with it for messenger, I think many people could possibly be more open to having a different app for messaging. Sure they may be resistant at the start but I think enough people would download it for Facebook to justify splitting it.

Everyone's mad about all the app splitting up , but everyone wants the Itunes Store to be split because it is bloated. This makes the apps easier to use, I like it.

They can throw ads at you all day. They can sneak in in-app purchases. They can sift through all your info. They can keep pestering me to review their crap app.

But dammit don't you ever make me download another app. The line is drawn.

Of course apple does this all the time. Podcasts. FaceTime. Etc. How about that imore app and imore forums app? Something about not being able to do each thing justice if all in one app??

Yeah I was one of the first to use FourSquare years ago and it was really good but then got to commercial I haven't opened it in a while but the Stinging will show up when I do

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I quite like the separation (of both fb and foursquare) and am quickly realising I must be one of the very few in the world. My question is, Rene and others, if you only use it for check-ins as you said, not for recommendations etc, why not just download swarm and only use swarm/delete foursquare? It sounds like you're the person they're trying to target here, given the whole point was so that people who only wanted checkins could have just them and people who only wanted recommendations could have just them.

I agree with you on FourSquare and plan on deleting my account. I found the same issue with the GoodReads app. It was publishing items to my Facebook feed I never remember giving it permission to do. Not everyone is meant to be social. I liked FourSquare to be a record of where I had been, not for meeting up.

I haven't noticed Instagram trying to make me use another app to preform a function that it used to do itself. I use it the same way I always have.

I don't mind the Facebook Messenger app. Then again, I don't message too many people on Facebook.

I've never used FourSquare. I just check-in via the Facebook app. I wish they would update Paper with the ability to check-in, edit comments/posts if you have a typo or something, or just to delete a comment or status update.

Good point! I was thinking the same thing. Instagram isn't really splintering anything. Their Bolt app is just them trying to get in on the Snapchat style business. There was never any Snapchat/Slingshot feature to begin with.

I'm not a Foursquare user so I'm a little confused. They don't want you checking in on...Foursquare? That is pretty odd.

I've only ever had apps splinter on me a few times, One was the Google Drive fiasco. Becoming separate apps didn't bother me - becoming separate, crappier apps bothered me. In the same vein that happened with the Apple Podcasts app. Same story. In theory I don't mind a lighter weight app to handle a smaller task but only if the app is good.

As far as Facebook goes I don't use Messenger but I can tell you, without doubt, that when Hangouts split up from Google+ I was the happiest person in the room.

Nope. Foursquare is about discovery now. Instead of taking the concept and making a new app, they took the app and retrofitted it for the new idea, rendering what the app has been since 2009 completely useless.

Bad move.

I'll wait till they release the renewed Foursquare app before I make my decision if I'm gonna keep it or not. I have no problem with the separation into two apps and I use Foursquare as a recommendation service since Yelp isn't that common here in Germany. But I could have lived without the separation too.

I ridded myself of Facebook almost weeks ago but for different reasons. The kill stroke was seeing ads for crap I had looked at on Amazon or other retailers in my side bars even I after I unchecked ad tracking in Safari. To me, that's just too damn creepy. As for Foursquare, I used it once while traveling but it didn't awe me like I thought so it has gone away too.

I'm right there with you. The moment the Foursquare app told me my checkins had been moved to Swarm I realized my love affair with that service was over.
I've been using Foursquare for five years and have some wonderful trips archived via my checkins..

Yeah, deleted the app immediately...

One of the many reasons why I deleted the Facebook app and replaced it with a third party app that has less intrusion, no app fragmentation, no adverts and all-in-all, just seems to work better.

I kinda dislike all these social networks now there's so many of them. If I didn't have to have a Facebook page and a Twitter account for work, I wouldn't touch either of them. Ever.

Good bye Foursquare. You eliminated the function that 80% of users want in the app. Way to be the "New Coke" of this generation.

App has been deleted .....

I completely agree. Another great example is ESPN, they have a half dozen apps, why can't I just have them all in one?

Yup. I'm culling apps now, to simplify. And the Foursquare changes pissed me off. Deleted both Swarm and Foursquare. And deleted Facebook Messenger. Tired of the sprawl and the changed terms of usage to fit their advertising / data collection models.

My friends and I LOVED Foursquare. It was a game to see who could get the most check-ins, or who was Mayor. Getting the occasional discount or free appetizer when checking in was a bonus. But now......I won't use it anymore. I tried Swarm, but why not build it into Foursquare instead of making it a separate app? Hate Swarm. People wonder how a large company or great product goes out of business???? This is how. Take a very successful product with a large user-base and make major changes because you want to be like Facebook instead doing what you do best. Especially without asking your users, you know, the people who pay the bills. Had they asked, I think they would have gotten enough feedback to leave well enough alone.

Deleted my Facebook account 6 weeks ago and glad that I did. I barely use Instagram and I have no desire to chat with people via Instagram. Like Rene, that's what I use iMessage and Twitter for.
I have used Foursquare for years and I do sometimes use it to find places that I have never ventured to because I am always up for an adventure when it comes to the palate. I also use the calendar Sunrise which allows you to connect your Foursquare. I like being able to see the places that I have been to in my calendar. Sometimes it helps me to be able to search and go back and find things that I did. With Foursquare there's a place to bookmark things that you want to do. I have checked some things off of my Foursquare to-do list. So I found the app to be pretty useful. Not to mention mayorships and special offers that you used to get through using Foursquare. It appears that has all disappeared or at the very least by being forced out to Swarm I never see special Foursquare deals anymore. I’m pretty sure I read that they were doing away with mayorships. Who doesn’t like a little healthy competition for the mayorship of their favorite spot? It’s good for business and it’s a challenge for customers who like to frequent your establishment.
In comes Swarm... I downloaded it at first and I didn't like it. I was unfamiliar with it and it didn't make sense, what was wrong with Foursquare? I hated that Foursquare kicked you out to Swarm so initially I turned that feature off. Now I have no choice. I still like checking in for the above reasons but I find Swarm to be redundant and unnecessary. If I want to hang out with my friends we will connect via phone, iMessage or sometimes Twitter. I don't need another app to do that. It's bothersome and I am considering deleting both at this point. I absolutely hate being kicked out to another app. I think I'm going to go see if Checkie still exists. It was a great app. It was no frills. It just allowed you to see a list of places in your area and you swipe across the name of the place that you're checking in to and you're checked in. At this point less is more. I don't want to be forced to use a secondary pointless app that I'm unfamiliar with especially when Foursquare wasn’t broken in the first place. And you know what they say… If it ain’t broke…

Update: Checkie does still work. I just downloaded it. It'll be my app of choice again because all I want to do is check in!

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For me Foursquare has been a game. A game that was all about points and mayorships. Swarm has neither of those stats. It's insane to have to check-in in one app and check your stats in a different one. That along with the recent drastic cut to the points awarded for checking in have taken all of the fun out of Foursquare. I've been considering deleting it too. I think I'll go do that now.

I feel the same way rene but i feel alot stronger about it. App sprawl with companies pawning off functionality so instead of an app doing everything now you have 2-3 it is a ridiculous, worrying and disturbing trend if i download an app i want to use that app not told to download another two or three if i have get a Facebook message and have to switch apps to act on it that it is ridiculous

What Foursquare did was pointless and dumb, I don't even like the name Swarm, for now though, I'm using it for now. As for Facebook, I had messenger since day 1 (2011), and over the years, the actual app failed to notify me when Messenger did. For that very reason, the Facebook Messenger app doesn't bother me, it is clean and easier than accessing it from the actual app which is cluttered and slow at times.

I have 4 Facebook accounts. I use Friendly+. I can put all my FB accounts on one app and switch easily from one to another. And MESSAGES are still on Friendly+. It has color themes as well.

Funny, isn't separating out functionality the same thing people keep saying that Apple should do with iTunes?

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I am very upset to hear about Facebook discontinuing the messenger part of their app. I only use the messenges in Facebook about 2-3 times a year to organize a get together with college friends who I barely see anymore. It was great to have easy access to these messenges. Forcing me to download another app just isn't the answer. I will most likely move to another service.

I also use the messenges part of the app to contact companies for support frequently. It's quick and easy. I am so much against what they are doing. I just hope the outrage is enough for them to reconsider their decision.

I've never used Foursquare, but I do use the Facebook app. I am tired of one company trying to take up valuable space on my device by making me use separate apps to access different features from one network. Yes my device has 64Gb of storage but I'd rather use that space for things more important to me than apps: like my photos, music, videos, LESS REDUNDANT APPS, etc.; in essence the things that actually matter to me. I also dislike in general a service making me use more apps to do things that used to take just one app. That's just bad business theory. I won't be downloading Facebook messages, even after they kill messages in Facebook.app. My friends can text or call me if they want to talk. Or maybe I'll be practicing the old-fashioned method of communication: spending time with someone in person.

I don't get the big deal? One more app, it works pretty seemless. There are less steps now to message on Facebook. Click mess. App text or click Facebook app click message icon text, seems better to me. Embrace change or make a bloated app.

Since they moved the important things out of Foursquare apps (my check in & friend's check in), there's not much reason to use that apps rather than Swarms.

Don't remember which news site made the analysis, but in the writer analyzed that Foursquare want to move from a check in platform to place discovery platform, while still using the already famous Foursquare brand.
Understandable. "Discovery" platform seems to have more rational monetization strategy, for example by letting business owner manage their venues, or by doing paid placement so their place got suggested to 4sq users more often than the competitions.