Swarm for iPhone review: It's not Foursquare, and here's why that's great!

Swarm by Foursquare is a new social checkin and meetup up for iPhone. At first I was a little stumped. Why would I need Swarm if my friends and I already use Foursquare? However, as I started using Swarm I started to change my mind. It's a different app and it's useful for something that's both similar and yet very different from Foursquare — seeing what your friends are up to and figuring out how and where to meet up with them.

Anyone who already uses Foursquare should understand the basic concepts of Swarm immediately. Just as you would check in on Foursquare, you can do the same through Swarm. The main difference is that Swarm is meant to be used when you are looking for something to do or you're attending an event you'd like other people to join you.

While Foursquare functions as a feed of all your Foursquare contacts, Swarm focuses only on those that are currently nearby. The main screen gives you an overview of who is in your direct vicinity, whose a few miles out, and who's far away. If you're looking for something to do, let your friends know where you are by checking in and then post a status. They can then let you know they're interested. Since Swarm can actively run in the background, it can alert you when your friends are nearby or want to meet up. The only downside is that obviously constant use of GPS can and will run your battery down faster.

Swarm also integrates with Twitter, Facebook Messenger, and SMS — if you let it. This means if one of your friends is nearby and you want to contact them, just tap on their photo choose your contact method. Since Swarm ties directly into Foursquare, you'll also receive all your Foursquare friend requests through Swarm as well.

A unique feature to Swarm is sticker collection. Anyone who remembers Gowalla, which sadly was discontinued many years ago, most likely remembers picking up items at places when checking in and adding them to your pack. The sticker aspect of Swarm somewhat reminds me of the days of Gowalla. Unfortunately, I don't really see a way to interact with items like you could in Gowalla. Perhaps that will come in a future update.

The good

  • Easy to use interface and design that will be familiar to most Foursquare users
  • Great integration with Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and SMS for one touch contact with friends
  • Easily turn off your location information if you go somewhere you don't want to broadcast

The bad

  • Not a lot of people seem to be using Swarm just yet, which limits its usefulness for the time being
  • Pulls from the same great Foursquare database of locations and data

The bottom line

The more I use Swarm, the more I think it has its own unique place when it comes to social checkin apps. I'll continue to use Foursquare when I'm traveling for the great recommendations and information from locals but I think I'll use Swarm more often when I'm around my hometown and looking for something to do. I'm just hoping more people find out about it and start using it.

If you've used Swarm already, what do you think of it? Will you just continue to use Foursquare or can you find a place for Swarm in your social checkin routine?

Allyson Kazmucha

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.

  • Once you install Swarm though you can no longer use Foursquare for check in's. It directs everything to Swarm. I tried Swarm for about 30 mins before I deleted it. I just won't do the update when Foursquare pushes it out during the summer.
  • I use both separately. I am absolutely not directed to swarm for foursquare checkins. Sent from the iMore App
  • Go into your FourSquare settings and turn off the "New FourSquare sneak peek" and you can use the apps independently.
  • I agree with verno. I had installed Swarm, didn't like it, uninstalled. then next time (this week) when I wanted to use 4Square, I was REQUIRED to use Swarm. Had to download it then or not check-in to 4Square. DISLIKE.
  • Tried Swarm and quickly realized I (and you, too, probably) already have other apps that already do what it does, and better. Have deleted both Swarm and Foursquare because of the gratuitous and hobbling changes coming to Foursquare this summer. Sent from the iMore App
  • Swarm is the new foursquare checkin app and that’s absolutely great. I think it’s not gratuitous at all, Foursquare had to do something to stay in the game and to keep both their focuses on point. That’s the checkin thing on the first hand, now focused by the new Swarm app, and on the second hand location informations, featured by the original foursquare app. By separating these two main aspects foursquare is generating two new, clearer, more defined fields of application.
  • Overall, I don't mind the split and think the development team did a good job with Swarm. However, I deleted Swarm from my phone as soon as a realized badges were no longer a part of the check-in experience. Perhaps I'm being silly, but badges are the main thing that separate Foursquare's check-in experience from Facebook's. If it comes down to using a service that's dedicated to simply notifying others of where I am, and whom I'm with, I'll start using Facebook because I have far more friends on that service than I do on Foursquare/Swarm.
  • Great point! Sent from the iMore App
  • Where did my comment go? Are we supposed to praise this app?
  • Finally was forced to install Swarm. It is a slick interface. BUT it does not post to Facebook. Checked all the settings. Disconnected Facebook. Tried "Add Facebook", pop-up appeared and clicked "OK" and nothing happens. I think it is time to say adios to Four Square and Swarm. I'll just use Facebook check-in from now on. Sorry, stalkers, you won't be able to follow me anymore via Foursquare.
  • I was forced to install and use Swarm this past weekend. the app did post to FB, but I had to do post as a separate action, it's not a off/on switch to allow post to Swarm and FB (and twitter) concurrently.