Review: Symbian Foursquare
With a new Foursquare app available for S60 5th Edition, is it time for an easy route into the location-based game? Ewan has a look in this full review, concluding that, while a great start, a lack of search and discovery functions really hurts the app in real world use.
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Location is everywhere just now, and the vanguard is Foursquare - at least in the Web 2.0 Silicon Valley circles. While its mobile website provides an adequate service for smartphones, the real power is in applications providing an interface, via its API.
Now there’s a new client in town for Foursqaure, a dedicated client with the simple title of Symbian Foursquare. Does this open up the location-based service to a wider audience on S60 5th Edition devices? Yes it does, but with some limitations.
One of the interesting design decisions made by developers ThinkChange is to make the application look exactly like the official Twitter Foursquare application for Android and iOS. I’m not sure if this is hauling up a huge sign that says “Buy Me” - or “Sue Me”. I guess time will tell. While it makes for a UI that will be familiar to people who jump between platforms (which I guess would make up quite a few Foursquare users), I think it's going to cause problems down the line for the team.
Right then, the three main tabbed views along the bottom give you access to the Foursquare features: Friends, Places and Me. And that’s about it – there seems to be a fair few obvious functions that are missing.
The Friends tab will list all the activity of people on your friends list – but with no filter for either “recently checked in” or “people who are very close to me”. It’s just a great big scrolling list. While out and about in Edinburgh, it would be advantageous to have a quick list of people who are nearby, and not in Amsterdam!
There’s a bigger issue with the Places tab. While it does kick off the GPS to get the phone location and then lists Foursquare locations that are near to those co-ordinates, it won't show the five locations that I know are right next to my house! In other Foursquare apps you can search on the name of a place, even if it's not in the presented list. That's not available here, and it limits the check-in options and devalues the app in my eyes. Search is needed urgently in my opinion.
Finally, the Me tab, and this is the one you are likely to spend the most time in. You’ve got a counter for your Mayorships and Badges, and space for your avatar (which doesn’t seem to load my little Lego mate). Under this you can list your friends – a clickable list to get through to their ‘social media’ profile, linking to Twitter, calls, SMS, Emails and Facebook profiles (which launches the web browser).
You also have a history of previous places you have been checked in at. Handily, you can click through and to check-in again at these locations, bypassing the Places tab. Again though, there's no search, no refresh button, no options to tweak the experience or help make the most of the service.
If Foursquare (the service) is about discovery, then we need to be able to discover new locations in a Foursquare App. While the majority of your check-ins will be to places you are re-visiting, it’s very hard to find these locations, or brand new locations, through the Places tab. This is the fundamental problem with Symbian Foursquare. It's a great starting point and I reckon it’s about 65% of the way there, and I hope ThinkChange continue to polish and improve it over time. If they can capture a user base, and grow it as they add features, they’re onto a winner.tw
Assuming the UI Lawyers don’t come knocking on the door!
-- Ewan Spence, Aug 2010.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at