Falling in love again, aka the Foursquare BlackBerry app

The new application promises to even further expand the geo-local game's user base.
Written by Jennifer Leggio, Contributor on

There are a few things that are always guaranteed to bring a smile to my face. One, a win by the San Jose Sharks. Two, the release of a phenomenal new album from a favorite band. And three, a fancy new application for my BlackBerry. The third one is doubly pleasing if that app happens to be connected to a current obsession - Foursquare.

After months of waiting, the geo-local social game started private beta of its BlackBerry app, which is chock full of great features and getting better every day. The interface is incredibly clean and easy to navigate -- a stark change compared to that of the interface on BlackBerry's mobile browser. Finding your friends' locations is as simple as an automatic refresh in the background but without the nasty battery depletion of other BlackBerry apps that run in the background (i.e. UberTwitter) and the GPS-enabled location search makes checking in easier than ever before.

I took the beta BlackBerry app and compared it to that of the iPhone app on a friend's phone and we both marveled at the comparative ease of use; that's pretty rare when comparing clunky BlackBerry applications to that of the smooth iPhone applications. As much as I love this new application, however, it still needs a little bit of improvement. In order to view the current leaderboard users still need to go to the mobile Web site, and friend management is not yet activated, all features that the Foursquare team has promised are coming soon.

Having already launched both iPhone and Android apps, the Foursquare team is hoping to attract even more BlackBerry users who might've shied away from Foursquare due to dislike for the mobile Web version.

"The BlackBerry market is rather big, and the pattern with early adopters tends to be that if they don't have an iPhone, they carry around a BlackBerry," said Foursquare co-founder Naveen Selvadurai.

While the beta was targeted at a few hundred "super users," the company has a current waiting list of upwards of 5,000 hungry to get their hands on the BlackBerry application. Selvadurai recognizes the large demand, but said the company is more concerned with perfecting the application before widely releasing it.

The BlackBerry application beta and push for wider spread adoption comes on the heels of the company announcing 50 new cities in its coverage area to meet Foursquare demand from all over the world. This type of expansion is critical as Foursquare competes with services such as Gowalla, which is available almost everywhere. However, Gowalla is only currently available on the iPhone and doesn't have a mobile Web option (and, quite frankly, isn't nearly as fun as Foursquare).

For those not wanting to wait for the public release of the BlackBerry app, there is another option. The downside is that other option is in private alpha -- SocialScope. The "everything but the kitchen sink" mobile phone application, which allows management of multiple social network services in one, does allow Foursquare check-ins through its service using the Foursquare API. Some are saying that this negates the need for Foursquare's own BlackBerry app, but Selvadurai says that there will be features within the BlackBerry app that services such as this can't yet offer.

"We'll continue to develop our app to make it the best experience of Foursquare on BlackBerry," he said. "Our app will expose all the different aspects of our platform (friends, tips, better suggested  places, specials...), and others are free to build similar experiences on top of our data.  That's part of the idea of the API: use whichever interface you find most useful."

That said, hold out for the BlackBerry app. I swear that it's worth it.

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