Tag Archives: foursquare

The 9 iPhone applications that I use every single day of the year

Looking back at 2012 I received a lot of questions regarding what apps I use on my iPhone. Like everybody, I have my list of favorite applications but as I reflect on 2012 I started thinking about which apps I use on a daily basis and are now part of my daily activity. That list is much shorter than apps that I like.

I have broken this blog post into 2 sections. The first section covers the applications that I use every day and yes that means 365 days per year. The second section covers applications that I are my favorites and help me solve specific problems but do not fall into the 365 days per year usage category.

For the purposes of my top list I am not including the default apps of Mail, Message, Calendar and Clock that I use daily.

5 Additional iPhone Apps that I use everyday of the year

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FourSquare

What I like about it: Foursquare is my historical view of places I have been. I use it daily to help me solve 3 specific use case; 1) it helps me remember some of the great restaurants I have been to and which ones I want to go back to in the future, 2) I use it to discover new restaurants that I want to visit based on my friends checkins/tips as well as the foursquare community and 3) it is always fun to save some money by taking advantage of FourSquare specials.

My tip for new users: there is an option in FourSquare to share your checkins on Facebook and Twitter. I recommend that you don’t post all your mundane regular checkins but instead reserve it for travel locations and unique places you visit. This way you don’t upset your friends or followers.

Some data points on my FourSquare usage. If you check out my tripsQ page (http://tripsq.com/darbysieben) – you will notice that as of this posting date I have travelled 481K kilometers. Other data points, I have been using FourSquare for the past 1060 days and have compiled 5507 checkins during that time.

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Waze

What I like about it: Crowdsource traffic conditions and turn by turn navigation. My use cases; 1) when at home keeps me up to date on travel times and gives me recommendations if I should change my regular routes, 2) when I travel and rent a car my go to app for turn by turn directions and the ability to accurately predict my ETA to my location and 3) when I take a taxi this app keeps the cab driver honest and has saved my money in the past when taxi drivers want to take me on a different route.

My tip for new users: Carry a charger in your car. This app, if you run it all the time like I do, drains the battery just like any turn by turn / map navigation app for the iPhone. Second find a good spot to mount it in your vehicle. I am lucky as both my vehicles allow me to mount right behind my steering wheel.

Some data points on my Waze usage. I started using it everyday in Q3 of this year. So far I have posted 122 alerts for other drivers and have racked up 8810km’s in driving data.

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Zite Personalized Magazine

What I like about it: This app keeps me up to date with all the industry news that I require to do my job as well as personal interests that I want to stay on top of. My use cases; 1) its my primary news feed – nuff’ said and 2) is the primary tool that I use to populate my twitter account twitter.com/darbysieben.

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Google Chrome

What I like about it: I do a lot of searches and viewing of websites on my iPhone. For me, Google Chrome is much better than the default Safari browser. My reasons for stating this; 1) syncs with my Google account so that I can move from desktop to iPhone and have my search history/bookmarks move with me, 2) search within the URL browser – I hate the fact that on Safari you have a website URL entry and then a separate search entry box and 3) faster – although I don’t have any concrete numbers to validate this, it appears to be faster.

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Facebook App

What can I say about facebook; it’s always nice to stay up to date with friends and family.

Here is a list of other apps that I use regularly and solve specific needs.

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That’s never happened before and how many miles I have travelled in FourSquare

Since joining Yellow Pages Group as an employee in 2006, I have spent a lot of time in airplanes and hotels. My airline of choice is Air Canada (yes, I am Super Elite) because of the upgrades to business class; which despite what some Westjet loyalists say (you know who you are) is important when you plan to do work. For the most part my experience has been pretty good, but then there are the odd times things get messed up.

I have had allot of firsts in the past 6-years (losing luggage, delays, getting spit on accidentally by kids, seen people get kicked off the plane, seats breaking mid-flight) but this past Sunday I experienced another first. This time, as I was boarding the plane, the attendant pulls me back and says, “sorry sir but you have been off-boarded from this flight by your concierge“. For context, I was on the 9am flight leaving Calgary to Toronto and was seated in 4A. After waiting until the plane was fully boarded the gate attendant spoke to my concierge service. Turns out she made a mistake by hitting the wrong key on the computer which off-boarded me that resulted in the gate attendant giving another person my seat. Anyway, I got my seat back after the gate attendant went onto the plane to tell the person sitting in 4A that they will have to move back into economy.

This day their might have been two firsts; getting off-boarded and being only minutes away from enjoying business class only to be bumped in the last minute. That person was definitely enjoying business case; they had already finished their pre-flight orange juice.

Speaking off travel I am also an avid user of FourSquare. Really interesting usage of the FourSquare API is by a company called tripsQ. Basically you connect your FourSquare account and it provides you with a nice visual of key stats regarding your travel. Since 2010 I have travelled 87% of the distance to the moon.

If I had data going back to 2006, I think I might be at the moon and back twice already.

Click here to see the my tripsQ page – http://tripsq.com/darbysieben

Darby Sieben Distance Travelled

Data Harmonization: FourSquare and YPG Canada Round-Up

One of the latest deals to get announced by YPG Canada was 2 days ago with FourSquare, “Canada’s Yellow Pages Group Announces Strategic Agreement with foursquare“. Over the past 48-hours, I have definitely been receiving lots of positive feedback, but a few people have asked me the question – what does this specifically mean for YPG advertisers? Before explaining how this benefits YPG Advertisers, let me explain the deal itself. I am going to grossly simplify this, but in a nutshell, harmonization of data really means connecting the IDs of venue’s listed in FourSquare.com to venue’s listed on YP.ca. Once the IDs are connected, then YPG and any developer using YellowAPI.com can use 1 ID to interface with 2 APIs. Further to our announcement last year with Twitter, in face, usage of the YPG ID is also mapped to venue’s within Twitter, check out “Canada’s Yellow Pages Group Partners with Twitter“.

Why is this important for YPG advertisers? In a nutshell, it means more leads and more business. How is this you might ask? Two things – 1) with the synchronization of venue IDs, you have a scalable way to push future enhanced content to multiple external sources and 2) by adding more value to YellowAPI.com, ie) making developers lives easier, we will see more innovation in the local space which means as more and more applications are created to fulfill user needs, more and more leads will be delivered to local advertisers. In this scenario, the user wins (they have more choices of how they want to interact with local), the developer wins (they can focus on innovative apps), the local advertiser wins (they are getting more business to their location) and YPG wins (as we fulfill our commitment to drive more leads to our advertisers).

In April, I posted the Eco-System in Canada of YellowPages.ca which garnered alot of attention and mostly people commenting to me that they did not realize YPG was involved with so many partners. Here is the updated Eco-System slide, now with FourSquare:

To conclude, the past 48-hours is bring more attention to YPG’s data initiatives. Here is a round-up of the stories covering this announcement.

AboutFourSquare.com – YellowAPI becomes first Canadian partner for foursquare’s venue harmonization project

TechCrunch – Yellow Pages Teams Up With Foursquare For “Venue Harmonization Project”

Kin Lane – Canada’s Yellow Pages Group Joins Foursquare to Harmonize Data

Scribbal – Foursquare, Canada’s Yellow Pages Announce Strategic Partnership

Techplz – Yellow Pages and Foursquare team up in mutually beneficial deal

WashingtonPost – Yellow Pages Teams Up With Foursquare For “Venue Harmonization Project”

Direction Informatique – Groupe Pages Jaunes placera votre entreprise sur foursquare

Next Montreal – Yellow Pages Teams Up With Foursquare to Share Data

Kelsey Group – YPG Canada and Foursquare Team Up for Venue Harmonization

Tech Vibes – Yellow Pages Group announces Strategic Agreement with Foursquare

TD Waterhouse – Canada’s Yellow Pages Group Announces Strategic Agreement With foursquare

If you know of other locations, please post a comment and I will add to the list.

Are Canadians Checking In?

There is no doubt about it, if you follow the online local space that Check-In is “In” for 2010. A recent article on Mashable, “Foursquare’s Growth Not Slowing Down: 725,000 Users, 22 Million Checkins” definitely proves the point for this 1-year old startup organization.

In February I did a post on my FourSquare experience that you can read on my initial experiences and the impact on local.

A couple of days, one of my work colleagues, Mohamed Kahlain, follow him on Twitter, sent me the link to CheckIn Mania, a mashup that features checkins from FourSquare, GoWalla and Britekite. This was originally posted on Mashable.

In a nutshell what CheckIn Mania does is allows you to enter any city, click on the map and select a business. Once you select a business you can see who is the mayor of that place + how many checkins to that business and any tips. You also have the ability to select the “Search by Map” which is a neat feature that allows you to move the map and the locations update as opposed to updating the locations by click.

Here is the screenshot with one of my favorite restaurants (of which I am in the Mayor in Calgary) called Spicy Hut.

Check In Mania for Calgary and Spicy Hut

It is no secret that any of the location based services listed above have the highest penetration in major US markets like San Francisco and New York, but what about Canada?

Are Canadians checking in?

So I decided to spot check some businesses in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal to see how active Canadian’s are. I decided to focus on Restaurants. My selection criteria for which restaurants and spas to choose was as following, In Google I did a local search and selected business #3 in their 7-pack. In YellowPages.ca, I selected the #8 business and in Yelp.ca I selected business #6. This would give me a random sample of businesses. I also limited this to FourSquare as this is the most popular check-in service.

Here are my findings.

Vancouver Restaurants:
C Restaurant (selected from Google) – 9 checkins
Tojo’s Restaurant (selected from Yelp) – 33 checkins
Top Of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant (selected from Yellowpages.ca) – 17 checkins

Calgary Restaurants
Calgary Marriott Hotel (selected from Google) – 21 checkins
Capo Restaurant (selected from Yelp) – 5 checkins
Karma Fine Indian Cuisine (selected from YellowPages.ca) – 2 checkins

Toronto Restaurants
Bistro 990 Restaurant (selected from Google, this is actually listing #4) – 11 checkins
Pomegranate Restaurant (selected from Yelp) – 8 checkins
The Real Jerk (selected from YellowPages.ca) – 34 checkins

Montreal Restaurants
Restaurant Toqué (selected from Google) – 5 checkins
Santos (selected from Yelp, actually #8) – 40 checkins
Arahova Souvlaki (selected from YellowPages.ca) – 15 checksin

The only thing that surprised me about the above results is Toronto. I would have expected to Toronto to come in closer to Montreal in terms of checkins because of population concentration and smartphone penetration. However, this might be a result of the fact that Toronto does not have the density of Montreal (land mass to population size), which might also explain why Vancouver is more comparative to Montreal. Calgary actually holds it own, relative to its population size and the fact that Calgary.

Although comparatively to the US, Canada is not at the 1/10 rule (see some US results below), it is pretty clear to me that Canadians in the large urban markets have started to embrace checkin. This group, like in the US, are the ones at the start of the product curve and the big question going forward is whether checkin services will hit mass adoption.

How does this compare to the top US cities. Here are the results for San Francisco and New York using the same process as above. I used YellowPages.com as the 3rd source.

San Francisco Restaurants
Zuni Cafe (selected from Google) – 459 checkins
R & G Lounge (selected from Yelp) – 296 checkins
Cote Sud (selected from YellowPages.com) – 6 checkins

New York Restaurants
Spring Street Natural Restaurant (selected from Google) – 495 checkins
La Sirene (selected from Yelp) – 52 checksin
Serendipity 3 (selected from YellowPages.com) – 236 checkins

My FourSquare Experience

I am little behind on my blog posts, lots of travelling for Yellow Pages Group in the past few weeks, but I have been meaning to post some thoughts regarding my usage of FourSquare. For anybody who has connected with me on twitter account, @darbysieben you probably have noticed that I have been all over foursquare lately.

For those of you who are not familiar with FourSquare – here is the summary:

– Get an account and install FourSquare on your phone – you need a smart phone (here is the link to foursquare in iTunes)
– When you visit a place, you simply open the application on your phone and “Check-In”. This will broadcast to your FourSquare friends (or Twitter and Facebook if you choose) that you have “Checked-In”
– You collect points for check-ins, providing tips or entering new locations and if you check in enough times in a location you become the mayor, some businesses will provide incentives for being the mayor
– You collect badges based on a variety of types of checkins. Here is my list of badges (my wife was joking with me that she outgrew badges in Brownies)

Personally, I think FourSquare is an interesting concept with respect to the “gaming” concept by using location as a way to compete with friends through points, badges or mayorship, the ability to discovery new venues and as a way to record your movements to broadcast to your friends.

In a nutshell – fun, discovery and ego massaging.

When I was in Hawaii at the end of January, I first experienced the concept of using FourSquare as discovery. Check out the screenshots below when I checked in to the Apple Store in Waikiki:

FourSquare Apple Store Waikiki

You will notice the “Special Nearby” green icon at the top. I suspect this is generating a massive amount of click throughs and as you see below when you click through, I was presented a 10% of at Doraku Sushi.

FourSquare Doraku Sushi

This concept is pretty cool from a user discovery perspective – it can lead a user to potentially check out a new venue based on an offer. This has interesting implications for local businesses.

Because I broadcasted my locations to my friends on Facebook and Twitter, people were commenting and telling us about places to check out. It was interesting to see people from all over the world give us advise on our trip. This was a pretty cool and another great example of discovery, this time through my social network.

Data Problem With User Generated Content in FourSquare

After using FourSquare for the past month there are some problems with data in this application from a user perspective that I believe need to be addressed to move the concept of check-in into the mainstream.

Nothing is more frustrating that wanting to check in to a location and the location is not recognized in the database. This happen to me in the US and in Canada. Although a user can add a location and get 5 points, I am not sure this is a mainstream approach. I would identify data the source of verified data and still allow a user to enter a new location, but when it is a business that has been there for years, it seems like a unnecessary layer of friction. I would also allow users to enter information inside the merchant page for the business. I have missed a number of check-ins because of lack of data in the FourSquare database.

The other thing I have noticed about FourSquare UG content is that some people are entering locations multiple times – likely so that they can become the mayor of that location. This is frustrating as well. For example most Airports I have passed through have multiple entries. There needs to be some data cleansing or monitoring.

If FourSquare does not address the data issue, I think this could result in them losing their advantage in the long-run. Although Mavens, as described by Malcomn Gladwell in his book The Tipping Point, will get you usage early, you need the masses to make a long-term sustainable business. The check-in concept is likely to be commoditized and I think data accuracy combined with smart UG content will be a key driver to who wins this space.

For Local Businesses

In the short-run, for any local business that has already starting leveraging social media – make sure you location is accurate within the FourSquare database. Second – provide an incentive for your “mayor”. Here are some examples of what companies are doing for their mayors.

Many people are talking online that check-ins will become commoditized and I think you will see major players around the globe will move into this space. If they do, there is a distribution play for local businesses based on the promotion of special offers, enhanced content (reviews, videos, photos) etc. The key for local businesses at this point is to digitize their content for the web and mobile and then distribute.

The problem with my Doraki Sushi example above was that my interest was peaked – 10% off Sushi (I like Sushi) but I wanted more information that simply a name and an offer. Show me pictures, give me a video, perhaps a menu in the case of a business – give me (the user) more information.

I think there is a synergy between users and businesses in this example. Users will want more information to help in making a decision and businesses want more opportunities to present why you should visit them. Provided the user experience is one that the user selects as opposed to be forced, then I think you have a winning combination that satisfies all parties

Privacy

The privacy issue is an interesting one. Many of my friends or my wife’s friends are horrified about the fact that I would broadcast my location. There are privacy implications here. When I was in Hawaii, it did cross my mind that I am broadcasting to the world that I am not home (however, I then realized I am not that important and I doubt there is a person out there who is waiting for me to leave my house to rob).

Check out PleaseRobMe.com – a site that broadcasts people in who have left their home – so maybe I need to be more concerned.

A THOUGHT: I wonder if an insurance company will challenge somebody who gets broken into as “irresponsible” if they broadcasted that they were not home and this promoted somebody to break into their house.

I don’t think the issue lies with FourSquare or any of the players who release a check-in service – this is opt in – but users need to understand what this means. You are telling your friends, co-workers, insurance company, potential people that want to harm you, etc. where you are and what does that means for you. This could have negative impacts.

My Conclusions

Check-In Service will become more popular and will be incorporated in many applications and eventually become commoditized.

Users will want a combination of accurate data + the ability to provide user generated content. They want control to contribute but I think it will go beyond just providing name/address information.

Users will want more information in the discovery process. They love the deal, but give them more content – videos, photos, menus, reviews, etc. – let the user go deeper in the discovery mode for local businesses from a check-in.

Local Businesses need to embrace digitization of their content and the management of that content. Check-in will become a distribution point.

Commercial real estate prices will increase because many people are checking into a particular area, location, location, location. This is probably not true but I wonder if social media could help in further articulating why one commercial location has a higher value than another – could check-ins become a supporting metric for foot traffic?

What Do You Think?

Is there a future for check-in?

Do you think users will want more information about a local business?

Do you think local businesses will embrace and provide offers?

Do you broadcast your location?

If you want more interesting reading on FourSquare, check out the following posts:

FourSquare and Geo-Games: The Future of Local?

Dennis Crowley (Foursquare): Check-ins Will Be “Commodity by the End of the Year.”