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23

Maybe big things really can come in small, ridiculous cardboard face-boxes. Google just made several announcements Thursday that aim to advance its popular Cardboard virtual reality viewer for manufacturers, app developers and end users. 

Cardboard, the curious corrugated VR "unit" Google launched at its I/O developer conference last year, seemed like a practical joke at first. (It's basically a box you fold up into

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a kind of headset with an Android phone in it to serve as the display.) A year later, though, we’re all still waiting for the punch line.

Meanwhile, Google has gotten serious, encouraging development for VR apps and interest by “hardware” partners to make their own versions of Cardboard. 

See also: Google Cardboard Gets Software Development Kit For VR Apps

It's now offering a new certification program, changes to its developer tools and new app categories for end users looking for compatible VR apps. Let’s take a closer look.

Just "Works With Google Cardboard"

Google really, really wants virtual reality to take off—especially the sort enabled by its Cardboard project. The company has been doing its best to raise an army of Cardboard users and partners, and the latest announcements play directly into that.

The hardware, if you can describe a cardboard box that way, now comes in a variety of configurations from an array of partners. Google wants to help them, so it now offers a new certification program that lets manufacturers—like DodoCase, Knox Labs and others—prove that they based their versions on Google’s original design and that the alternatives will work with any Cardboard app.

As part of the program, Google offers a "new tool that configures any viewer for every Cardboard app, automatically.” Manufacturers list their major parameters—including focal length, input type and inter-lens distance—and the system churns out a QR code they can post on their products. Customers scan the code with the Cardboard app, and all supporting VR apps get optimized for that viewer.

Compliance lets them slap a “Works with Google Cardboard” badge on their products, which sell for anywhere from $9 to $40, depending on the options. 

On the software side, app developers get new design guidelines for creating immersive experiences without disorienting users or confusing them with nonsensical menus and interfaces. Speaking of disorientation, Google also revised its Cardboard software development kits for Android and Unity, so head tracking and drift features work better. Update your apps with the new SDKs, and you too can earn a "Works with Google Cardboard” badge.

Not to leave end users out, Google also improved search and discovery for the “hundreds” of Cardboard apps and games available in Google Play. The company rejiggered the categories, which now list new ones such as Music and Video, Games and Experiences.

Just The Beginning

Google Cardboard

Cardboard may look like an elaborate prank, but the real joke in virtual reality is how long it's taken the technology to slog its way to the market.

Laughable—and let’s not forget nausea-inducing—early attempts stymied this niche for decades. Then Oculus’ 2012 Kickstarter for its Rift headset put VR in the spotlight again. Now owned by Facebook, the former indie startup has since worked on several developer versions, including its latest "Crescent Bay” unit, and its technology shows up in Samsung’s smartphone-powered Gear VR headset. Meanwhile, others—like Sony and HTC—have hopped on the bandwagon. But they’re taking their time. A few have promised consumer-ready releases this year, including Oculus (finally).

Amid the frenzy, Google swooped in last year to give the public the cheapest, fold-it-yourself VR viewers imaginable—even offering instructions on how people can make their own. It also promoted other companies that make their own knock-offs, urged app makers to develop supporting VR apps, and jazzed up its own Google Maps application with Cardboard-friendly VR Street View.

See also: Street View Comes To Google Cardboard

"We think that Google Cardboard offers everyone a simple, fun, and affordable VR experience,” said Andrew Nartker, product manager for Google Cardboard. "It's exciting to show everyone that their current smartphone can already run great VR apps.”

That sentiment steps on Samsung’s territory more than most. While underpowered compared to full, computer or gaming console VR set-ups, Gear VR eradicates cables by seating a smartphone inside the unit. But Gear VR is limited to Samsung devices only. The low-tech Cardboard won’t work with every single smartphone on the market either, but at least it works with more—including some Nexus, Samsung, Motorola phones and others.

Plus, Samsung’s headset costs $200, while you can pick up Cardboard for less than the price of lunch.

Soon, that meager investment could look even better. Google also scooped up some new talent—namely the audio maestros from Thrive Audio team, from Trinity College Dublin’s School of Engineering, and experts in 3D painting from Tilt Brush, which won a Proto Award for “Best Graphical User Interface” last year.

The move suggests that, when it comes to the humble Cardboard, Google hopes to have more to brag about before long. 

Lead photo by Adriana Lee; others courtesy of Google



47

Few communities have shaken the Internet the way anything-goes imageboard 4chan has. Now, founder Christopher “moot” Poole has announced his departure from the site.

“I founded 4chan eleven and a half years ago at the age of 15, and after more than a decade of service, I've decided it's time for me to move on,” Poole wrote on Wednesday.

See also: 4chan's Christop

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her Poole: I Was A Teenage Coder—And Then I Stopped

An English-language forum open to a variety of topics, 4chan’s subject matter spans the legal and illegal and everything from cartoons to shock porn. 4chan is credited as the birthplace of anarchic hacker coalition Anonymous and the origin of LOL cats and bronies, among countless other Internet memes and phenomena. It’s a place for cyber bullies such as the attackers who released stolen nude celebrity photos, but also the place where internet vigilantes tracked down an animal abuser and had her brought to justice. For better or for worse, the website Poole created as a teenager is a major influence on and hub for Internet culture.

In a news post on 4chan, Poole said he's leaving in order to remove the site's largest "point of failure"—an all powerful administrator. Poole said he's giving up his influence in order to make 4chan more democratic. It can easily be hinted that a secondary reason for his retirement is relief from the pressure that comes with being the public face of such a volatile group of anonymous users. 

"The journey has been marked by highs and lows, surprises and disappointments, but ultimately immense satisfaction. I'm humbled to have had the privilege of both founding and presiding over what is easily one of the greatest communities to ever grace the Web," said Poole. 

See also: 4chan Will Now Remove Awful Images—If They're Copyrighted

Poole said the site will remain stable and active and the only difference will be that he no longer will administer it. 

“From a user's perspective, nothing should change. A few senior volunteers—including 4chan's lead developer, managing moderator, and server administrator—have stepped up to ensure a smooth transition over the coming weeks,” he said.

Photo via shareconference



50

In the cold war between Apple and PayPal, a possible thaw may have started on Friday. The iPhone company now permits PayPal as a payment option on its website for U.S. and U.K. shoppers, Recode reports.

That new level of cooperation is notable mostly because of the way Apple snubbed PayPal earlier this year when it failed to recommend its payment-processing services to developers working w

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ith Apple Pay. That's the phone payment scheme Apple launched alongside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. 

See also: Apple Is Less Than Inviting To PayPal In Apple Pay

Neither company commented openly on that breach, although one popular theory had Apple casting PayPal out of its plans due to the latter's payments partnership with Samsung and its Galaxy fingerprint reader.

Seemingly An Odd About-Face For Apple

On the surface, PayPal showing up on Apple.com looks like an about-face for the tech giant. Apple is known to hold grudges against partners who have disappointed it—sometimes excommunicating them or even launching holy wars against them. For its part, PayPal expressed its frustration publicly in a full-page newspaper ad and went on to another partner

PayPal ad in the New York Times

Now the two companies appear to have patched things up: The iPhone maker has not only granted PayPal access to its online store, it is also promoting PayPal's credit payments, which lets shoppers pay for goods in installments with no interest. 

The Cold War May Still Be Pretty Chilly

It’s worth noting, however, that this isn't PayPal’s first foray into Apple's e-commerce business. PayPal has been a mainstay in Apple’s App Store and iTunes for years, and its arrival now on the company's website is not the same as entering the Apple Pay system. 

Ultimately, the arrangement looks more like a marriage of convenience, designed to give shoppers a more consistent experience across Apple’s digital and physical retail offerings.

Even so, it’s still a win for PayPal. As Recode pointed out, Internet Retailer deemed Apple the second largest online retailer in the U.S., which should bring plenty of juice to PayPal. Ironically enough, that could wind up making it a partner someday that Apple Pay simply can no longer refuse. 

Lead image courtesy of PayPal



6

Amid the hoopla over the defenestration of Reddit CEO Yishan Wong, few noticed that the social news site did something else really interesting: It named a woman as its interim CEO, one who seems to have a good chance of holding the job permanently.

That would be Ellen Pao, whose last news moment came when she

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essinsider/article/ELLEN-PAO-S-LAWYER-Kleiner-Perkins-Just-Fired-3916859.php">sued venerable venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins in 2012 for sexual discrimination. The lawsuit, which is still pending, put a spotlight on gender bias in the male-dominated tech industry.

See also: Building The Front Page Of The Internet: Reddit's Alexis Ohanian

Pao joined Reddit, which is currently owned by Conde Nast parent company Advance Publications, as a brand strategist in 2013. During her brief tenure, Pao helmed Reddit's long-awaited move into mobile. Reddit first attempted building a potentially lucrative platform for ad sales in 2011 with an  app so glitchy it was eventually pulled. Under Pao, Reddit's mobile team launched two successful apps for iOS and Android.

Pao's ascent is remarkable in Silicon Valley, where most women have better odds of getting their employer to freeze their eggs than of being named CEO. As interim leader, Pao now runs of one of the most popular properties on the Internet, home to 174 million audience and recent recipient of $50 million in Silicon Valley funding. And it's a striking statement at Reddit, home of The Fappening—a now-shuttered "subreddit" focused on the sharing of celebrity nudes in the wake of Apple's iCloud leak—and a host of "jailbait" forums dedicated to sexual photos of females who appear to be underage. 

See also: For Once, The Entire Internet Isn't Blaming The Victims Of This Nude Celebrity Photo Leak

Pao's diplomas are as impressive as her career. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she is also a Harvard Business School MBA and holds a degree in electrical engineering from Princeton. She worked at a number of Silicon Valley businesses prior to her seven-year career at Kleiner Perkins.

Helming Reddit's mobile team, Pao oversaw Reddit's canny push into mainstream by simplifying its most popular forum via the official Reddit Ask Me Anything app. The AMA forum, a crowd-sourced Q&A which has featured luminaries such as President Barack Obama, Bill Gates and a host of celebrities.

See also: How To Host A Reddit AMA

Pao also oversaw the acquisition and rebranding of Alien Blue, the most popular third-party Reddit app for iOS, now available for iOS and Android.

Bolstering Silicon Valley's Female Elite

As Reddit's interim CEO, Pao joins—temporarily or not—the minority of female CEOs in Silicon Valley. Despite the visibility of Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, women executives remain rare.

See also: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to Women: Don't Ask For A Raise, Trust Karma

More than 45% of Silicon Valley companies have no women among its top employees, according to a study by law firm Fenwick & West. Other exceptions include Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman; the CEO of Google-owned YouTube, Susan Wojcicki; and Ramona Pierson, CEO and co-founder of social learning startup Declara. 

Installing Pao as interim CEO with a strong possibility of becoming permanent sends a strong message not just to investors and advertisers, but also to the Reddit community. Pao's successful mobile push indicates business acumen and organization the for-profit company previously appeared to lack. Her role in making gender inequity and sexual harassment a talking point in Silicon Valley—whether desired or not—may signal a future Reddit less friendly to creepshots and other investor-repelling content.

Lead image courtesy of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers



51

Chromecast, Google's $35 little TV streaming device, keeps learning new tricks. Here's a good one that will let you play videos from an Android phone or tablet on your television.

Most people know Chromecast because it lets you easily stream Netflix, YouTube and other video services to your TV using your phone as a remote control. With a little help from a new Chromecast plugin for the popular ES File Explorer File Manager app,

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ream-local-video-from-your-android-to-your-chr-1654907042">reports Gizmodo, it can also send videos stored on your Android gadget to your big flat screen TV. 

ES File Explorer isn't the first app to offer this functionality, but it does look like one of the best. I took it for a spin and was impressed with the results. With other apps, I've seen a lot of fitful stutters and stops, or dropped connections. This one held its connection well for videos as well as songs. 

The ES File Explorer app itself is already a pretty handy file manager for Android devices, one that puts the folder structure of your phone and its memory card, if you have one, on view. Now with the ES Chromecast plugin, the combination makes easy and stable work of sending videos, photos and music to the TV. 

Here's how: 

  • To start, download the ES File Explorer app here. (It's free.) 
  • Open a video, picture or song inside the app.
  • Tap the “play” icon at the top right. (It looks like a triangle set inside a phone.) It will tell you to give you the option to download the ES Chromecast plugin.
  • Once you’ve done that, head back to the app.
  • Now touch the icon with the three dots in the upper right, and pick your Chromecast from the drop down menu.
  • You may have to tap the “play” icon beside it again.

Now, when you want to switch between playing the file on the mobile device or on the Chromecast, just touch the “play” icon. You control pausing and skipping from your phone or tablet. The stream doesn’t just work for video either. Local casting of songs and photos work from your Android gadget too.

In my test, the screen flickered for a moment, then the casting action kicked in like a champ. The whole process, including download, took seconds. 

Chromecast wasn’t actually intended to run off a local network for this type of direct streaming from gadgets, so it's a nice surprise to see an app that makes it work so well. 

Given that the new Nexus Player essentially has a Chromecast stuffed inside, third-party apps like this can give Google’s growing family of TV offerings some intriguing new uses beyond binge-watching. 

All photos by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite



53
Facebook

Facebook complained that the federal Drug Enforcement Agency committed a “serious breach of Facebook’s terms and policies” when it set up a fake Facebook account and impersonated a criminal suspect in order to communicate with other criminals, the company wrote in a letter

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uzzfeed.com/chrishamby/facebook-rebukes-dea-for-impersonating-woman-online#2dcjnsf"> to the DEA on Friday.

See also: The Feds Think It’s OK To Impersonate You On Facebook

The letter is a response to a lawsuit filed by Sondra Arquiett who was arrested in 2010 following a joint investigation with the Drug Enforcement Agency and other law enforcement agencies. Officers seized her phone and subsequently set up a Facebook account using photos that were on her mobile device, without Arquiett’s knowledge or consent, in an attempt to correspond with other criminals.

The DEA justified its breach of privacy by claiming the Facebook profile was used for a “legitimate law enforcement purpose” and that Arquiett gave the agency implicit consent to access the information on her device to aid in further investigations.

Facebook does not think the DEA's excuses are justifiable. In a letter to DEA administrator Michele Leonhart, first reported by BuzzFeed, Joe Sullivan, Facebook’s chief security officer, said the company was "deeply troubled by the DEA's claims and legal position."

Most fundamentally, the DEA’s actions threaten the integrity of our community. Facebook strives to maintain a safe, trusted environment where people can engage in authentic interactions with people they know and meet in real life. Using Facebook to impersonate others abuses that trust and makes people feel less safe and secure when using our service.

Facebook requires everyone to use their "real names," or names and identities that can be verified using identification like drivers licences or student IDs. The company recently found itself in hot water over its real names policy when a number of drag queens discovered they had been kicked out of their accounts for using stage names.

Facebook eventually acquiesced, and allowed those individuals to use their stage names, but reiterated that the policy is in place to protect people from harm, and that it's against Facebook's policy to create fake accounts using fake names.

See also: Facebook Ads Are About To Start Following You Everywhere

Law enforcement agencies are subject to the same rules as any other user, and Facebook quickly disabled the Arquiett account created by the DEA.

"Facebook has long made clear that law enforcement authorities are subject to these policies," Sullivan wrote, "Facebook asks that the DEA immediately confirm that it has ceased all activities on Facebook that involve the impersonation of others or that otherwise violate our terms and policies."

Photo courtesy of Marco Paköeningrat on Flickr



20

Many people seem pretty happy with iOS 8, Apple's latest operating system for iPhones and iPads. But not everyone is. If you've found yourself stuck with an older phone that isn't working as fast as you'd like, or have some other objection to any of the changes iOS 8 has wrought, you still have the option to go back.

For no

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w, at least.

See also: 5 Common iOS 8 Complaints And How To Address Them

The problem is that before long—and outside of Apple, no one knows how long—Apple will stop digitally signing iOS 7.1.2, which will make it impossible to restore it on your iDevice from Apple's servers. Traditionally, this hasn't taken much longer than a week or two. When it released iOS 7, Apple waited two weeks to stop signing earlier versions of iOS; the wait was just one week after iOS 6 launched.

To see if Apple has officially stopped signing iOS 7, check out this page and look for your device to make sure you're still eligible to downgrade. If the line for your device shows a green "Yes," you're good to go. (If not, you're largely out of luck.)

How To Downgrade

First, if you're planning on restoring your apps and data to the phone once you downgrade, you should make sure you have a valid backup made while you were on iOS 7. Once you downgrade, you won't be able to restore your phone from an iOS 8 backup.

Next, you’ll need a copy of the most recent iOS 7.1.2 firmware download, whose filename will end in the letters "ipsw." It may already be on your computer as a result of your last update; its name will vary depending on your device, but it will include the numbers 7.1.2. (you can search for it using Spotlight on a Mac or the Windows search function). 

If that fails, or if you just want to save time, you can download it online—for instance, by using these download links from Redmond Pie. Make sure to get the right IPSW files for your device; they're specific to iPhone/iPad/iPod models and their wireless radios.

Once you’ve done that, disable the "Find My iPhone" function (go to Settings->iCloud->Find My iPhone), as it will TKTK. Then simply connect your phone to your computer and open iTunes.

While in iTunes, click on “Summary,” and then, while holding down the option key on a Mac or shift on Windows, left-click on “Restore.” Select the iOS 7.1.2 IPSW file, and iTunes should do the rest. Remember: To get your apps and data back, you'll need to restore using your most recent backup from iOS 7.

If that doesn’t work, and you're sure Apple is still signing iOS 7, Macworld has a detailed fix for upgrading by putting your phone in Recovery Mode. You should be able to option-click "Restore" and select iOS 7.1.2 this way, too.

But act fast, because supplies may be limited.

Lead photo by Dan Rowinski for ReadWrite



16

YouTube achieved peak troll this week when PewDiePie, video gamer star of the video-sharing community's most popular channel ever, disabled comments, cutting off onsite communication with his more-than 30 million subscribers. 

In a video titled "Goodbye Forever Comments," PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, addresses his fans, whom he affectionately calls "bros," and explains that communicating with his fans in the YouTube comments system is almost impossible because of the overwhelming amount of spam and trolli

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ng:

"It's been bothering me for so long now, I've been trying to find solutions to it. I was hoping that it would get better, I was hoping YouTube would try and figure a way out, but it doesn't seem like it. I'm just sick of it, so I'm going to turn off the comments forever, they're not coming back. I wouldn't say that we lose something, I would say we're taking the next step in the right direction, because it's been going on for too long, these comments being shit."

For the uninitiated, YouTube comments have long been a miserable cesspool of near-illiterate insults, obscenities and spam. There was never a time I've scrolled down to read comments on a YouTube video (whatever video it may be) and thought to myself, "why yes, that was a good idea." 

See also: YouTube Is Chasing Hollywood—But It Should Worry About Its Homegrown Stars

This is a widely-shared sentiment amongst YouTube users, and yet the trolls keep coming. Now that the Google-owned site is spending big bucks on making its homegrown stars household names, the time for a fix is long overdue.  

It was only in May of this year that Kjellberg seemed to have a better handle on the comments system, posting a video titled "Mean Comments" where the YouTube gamer read and made good-natured fun of the troll comments on his videos. 

YouTube has tried to remedy their comment situation in the past. In September 2013, the company integrated Google+ to YouTube, so that comments from recognizable profiles were prioritized. With Google+, YouTube users were also encouraged to use their real names, which forced some less-than-pleasant users to come out from anonymity. 

After much pushback, this implementation ended in July 2014, when YouTube ended all restrictions on usernames that one could choose for the site. And once again, the trolls reared their ugly heads. 

See also: With Twitch, Amazon Has To Prove It Can Manage A Social Site

So what happens now? YouTube's number one creator and veritable face of the brand has effectively cut off a significant portion of the video site as if it were an infected limb. Kjellberg would rather interact with his 30 million fans elsewhere, rather than the one part of the site that is meant for communication. That alone should send a message to YouTube loud and clear. 

The message is this: YouTube, get your comments system together. 

YouTube is heading on a high-speed train towards mainstream media, and will now be competing with Amazon-acquired Twitch, the livestreaming gaming site whose community chat is an integral part of its service. Service which is drawing millions of new users per month. Your move, YouTube. 

Images courtesy of PewDiePie



32
Alex Hawkinson, founder of SmartThings

It’s official: Samsung’s long-rumored acquisition bid for smart-home company SmartThings is now a reality. Neither company announced terms of the deal, although Recode reports that the sale price was $200 million. If that’s true, Samsung got quite a steal, considering Google blew $3.2 billion on Nest, maker of smart thermostats and smoke detectors. 

Unlike those gadgets, SmartThings isn’t a standalone product, but a developer-frien

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dly platform that's compatible with many devices from other companies. That makes this deal a shortcut for Samsung, which now doesn’t have to grow its own smart home initiative from scratch. 

See also: Why Samsung Buying SmartThings Should Have Us Worried

On the SmartThings blog, founder and CEO Alex Hawkinson wrote, “We believe that there is an enormous opportunity to leverage Samsung’s global scale to help us realize our long-term vision.” Ideally, in other words, Samsung’s worldwide reach in product areas ranging from smart TVs to smartphones to kitchen appliances could rocket SmartThings devices into homes around the globe.

Perhaps. But the SmartThings crew may want to brace itself anyway. Samsung loves throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. Hopefully SmartThings’ carefully nurtured developer relationships and evolving ecosystem won't be among them. Because no one ever wants to see a smart home loaded down with confusion and bloatware.

Hawkinson said that SmartThings, which will technically become part of the Samsung Open Innovation Center (OIC) in San Francisco, will continue to run as an independent operation under his leadership.

Lead image courtesy of SmartThings



38

The first thing I did after downloading Foursquare’s new Swarm app was drastically cull my friends list on Foursquare from over 100 people down to just 19. 


When I joined Foursquare a few years ago, I was living in Arizona, still in college—a completely different lifestyle. As the years went by, things changed but my friends list kept growing. I stopped using Foursquare for checking in, and started using it as a location recommendation service, similar to Yelp. In my mind, it wasn’t really a social network anymore—in fact, I started keeping it among the travel apps on my iP

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hone.


This is the concept Foursquare wants to build: to move beyond the check-in. The company's recent unbundling of its services yielded two separate entities—Swarm, the social network; and Foursquare, the app you’ll use when trying to figure out what to do next.


Foursquare isn’t the first social network to experiment with splitting up its services. Facebook, most notably, has been trying to unbundle itself for years, sometimes failing along the way. Its latest move—forcing Facebook users into Messenger if they want to chat on mobile devices—was largely criticized, for example.


Foursquare is also taking a risk by dividing its efforts for two distinctly different services seemingly working in opposite directions. Yes, Foursquare's location discovery application will use your check-in data from Swarm, but Swarm also wants to create a different social experience entirely.


Swarm—Creepy Or Convenient? 











Swarm was Foursquare's way of ripping the check-in from its flagship app. The new social app uses your phone's GPS function to broadcast where you are at all times, and view others' locations, too. 


Named after the Foursquare “Swarm Badge” that signifies a busy location, Swarm is the latest “ambient location” app to launch this year. "Ambient location" apps rely on mobile phones' location services to display your general area to your friends in a passive way, without the need to check into any specific location. That's how Swarm works. 


If you decide you want to share your exact location with friends, Swarm's check-in feature is basically the same, but now you can also share your future plans with friends and invite them to join in. Ambient location sharing can be turned off, but it’s on by default.



See Also: Why Foursquare Is Breaking Up With The Check-In

I’m skeptical of location sharing in general. I rarely check into places until I’m ready to leave, and even then, I don’t see the benefit. And with Swarm, my general location is visible to anyone at any time. There are only a handful of people I’d be okay with knowing that information, and it's not anyone on the friends list I’d amassed since joining Foursquare four years ago. 


I’m probably not alone here. Ambient location apps haven’t taken off, and even Facebook’s attempt to get friends to share their general locations has fallen flat. Most people don’t mind telling their friends where they are, as long as they’re okay with those friends joining them. I bet most people don’t have 100 or more friends they’d enjoy meeting up with randomly on the street. 


Foursquare doesn’t disclose monthly active user numbers, but the company boasts over 50 million app downloads. Still, one would imagine users stay in contact with friends over Twitter and Facebook more often than they do with Foursquare, and moving check-ins to Swarm may not help Foursquare in that regard. 


Foursquare is simply not as popular as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, even though the company is technically in the same category as those companies. In 2010, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley was even dubbed "The New King Of Social Media"—but four years later, Foursquare may be doing more rebuilding than refining.


Swarm, Foursquare's new social arm, will more or less need to build its community from the ground up; Crowley says the company is building tools to make it easier to bounce between Foursquare's apps, but I doubt users like me, who primarily use Foursquare as a recommendation tool, will find Swarm appealing. 


A New Direction For Foursquare


As Swarm tries to popularize proximity apps, Foursquare will have its own hurdles to jump.


The new Foursquare app to be released later this year will offer suggestions on where to go and what to order, based on users' unique location histories. On the plus side, Foursquare’s directory of places consists of over six billion check-ins, which is more than any other service—arguably enviable by Google or Yelp. 



See Also: Foursquare CEO: How We'll Tell You Where To Eat And What To Order

Foursquare will learn your behavior based on your previous check-ins and ambient location data—such as where you like to eat, or when you like to go to the movies—and tailor suggestions for where you should go next. The Foursquare app will eventually deliver push notifications when you are at a new location, and serve up suggestions for what to do there. 


Many places have “tips,” or small reviews written by Foursquare after they check in. Unlike Yelp, these Foursquare reviews tend to be short and concise. As Foursquare moves away from the check-in, these reviews will be the focal point of the new application.


The only way for Foursquare to collect your location data once check-ins are removed is to use location services running in the background to track where you’ve been, which is concerning for privacy-conscious folks. In order to receive tailored push notifications, you’ll have to let Foursquare track you.


Foursquare’s collection of places is likely robust enough on its own to succeed as a competitor to Yelp. But will users be comfortable giving up their location information to both Foursquare and casual contacts on a regular basis? I'm not convinced. 


Lead image via John Fischer on Flickr



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