Android Now Plays Foursquare Too

MG Siegler
Wednesday, September 2, 2009; 10:44 AM

Foursquare has been all the rage in the early adopter mobile space the past several months. And it has been peeking outside of the early adopter crowd with things such as local bars offering promotions for Foursquare usage. But it has still been held back a bit by the fact that it has only had an iPhone app and a somewhat clunky mobile web interface. And Foursquare understood that, so it called for developers to help build its app for the other mobile platforms. Today, the first of those is ready to go: Foursquare for Android.

Work on the project started back in April and was mainly coded by Joe LaPenna and Chris Brummel in their spare time. It started as a project to first reverse engineer the iPhone API, and then migrate to Android using Foursquare's beta API, LaPenna tells us. After a few months of work, the duo and Foursquare's Naveen Selvadurai (who has been managing it from the service's side) feels its now feature-complete and ready for distribution.

Users who have played with the iPhone version should feel at home with this app. But it has a few features that the iPhone version doesn't, such as integrated maps and a one-click check-in process. Other areas like the friends check-in list and the page to display your badges are largely the same as the iPhone version, but the app has the distinctive Android look and feel.

One advantage the Android platform has over the iPhone is that applications can run in the background. But Foursquare for Android chooses not to take advantage of that, and instead opts for speed and better battery life. "No "location aware" always-on background services or application bloat to drain your battery over the course of the night," is how they phrase it. Since Foursquare is all about manually checking-in places, that makes sense.

With the app now complete, the next revisions will focus on performance and UI, LaPenna says. But there are also some new features that both they and Foursquare have planned. "We of course plan on adding features to the app but we're not sure what order we're going to tackle them in," LaPenna says.

Having another mobile application for Foursquare should certainly help with its adoption. And Android is especially key since a lot of geeky early adopters have Android phones. There is also work being done on a BlackBerry app and a Windows Mobile app. The latter I've seen in action, as my friend Anand Iyer has been working on it. It has a few great features also not found on the iPhone app including the ability to ping you if three of your friends check-in somewhere that you are not. And placing your friends on an actual map to show where they are (think Latitude).

One really nice thing about the new Android app is that it's open-source. LaPenna and Brummel have already had plenty of others help in building it. You can find out more about it on the Google Code page for the project. They've also written up some documentation for first-time Foursquare Android users.

The Android Foursquare app is available in the Android Market right now for free, or you can grab the app from the Google Code page and install it yourself.

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