I must start this review with a disclaimer: I was never really in favor of the idea behind Foursquare: You check in to a location to boast to the world about what restaurant you're eating at, and if you eat there enough, you get to be the faux "mayor" of that place. The app and service will also present coupons, a la Groupon, based on your movements. In a shot at the wonderful Yelp, Foursquare's promo text reads, "Don't waste time reading long reviews from strangers. Wherever you are in the world, open up Foursquare to see where your friends like to go." Not much help when none of your friends have been to Dubrovnik (which, by the way, is awesome!).
Another issue I have with Foursquare is that I don't necessarily want strangers to know my location, and why do I need another app when Facebook lets me check in for my friends to see?not the whole world. I also find it annoying when scanning my Facebook news feed and there's a Foursquare entry that requires opening another app just to see the details. Yelp now, too, lets you check in, and I find its food and local business features more helpful. Putting aside all my reservations, though, Foursquare has managed to put together a good-looking, full-functioning Windows Phone app.
I found Foursquare for Windows Phone on the Windows Store and installed the free app on a spiffy Nokia Lumia 928. Setting up such a place-oriented app of course requires allowing it access to your location at installation. The easiest way to sign up for or sign in to Foursquare is with Facebook, but I had trouble doing this in the Windows Phone app. I saw a white screen that said Success, but with a security warning. I reset my password from the Foursquare website, and was up and Foursquaring in no time.
The app shows a sliver of a local map across the top, then options for Explore, Activity, and Profile. Below this are tile buttons for Specials, Best Nearby, Saved, and More? The last expands to a dizzying number of categories, like Trending, Arts, What's next? and Top Picks. For a joke, I chose Outdoors, here in midtown concrete jungle. It told me that two people were at the Empire State Building, and that that is popular with out-of-towners. First, on a beautiful day like this, I can swear that there are more than two humans up there, and second, is there anyone in the country who doesn't know that the Empire State Building is popular with out-of-towners? Digging into the "Tips" revealed that the spot has a "great view." Really? This is some real inside info, let me tell you.
A list of nearby bars, restaurants, and cafes occupied the center of the app's interface. There were three entries for the Gansevoort hotel. Everything was listed in yards away from me, but the order of entries wasn't by distance, with some closer places coming later. Perhaps they were the most frequently checked-into places around me, but simple proximity would have been best.
"Specials" are one of Foursquare's main draws. I found things like 10 percent off a meal if you check in with three friends, a free drink at a sandwich place for first-time check-iners, and a free drink if you buy 15 dollars' worth of food. I've never been too big on these coupon deals, since often they make you spend more money than you intended to in the first place or make you go somewhere you wouldn't have otherwise. But there are plenty of folks who get off on this sort of thing.
One cool feature on the Foursquare Windows Phone app was Tap + Send. When I first saw this, I wasn't really sure what I was sending; it turned out to be for contacts or establishments, and it also turns out to be a Windows Phone exclusive feature! So not only is Foursquare one of the minority of Windows Phone apps that doesn't suffer in comparison with its iOS and Android counterpoints, but actually offers something over them.