Foursquare continues to skirt around optimized tablet apps

If there's any major social media player that is playing favorites with HTML5 rather than optimized tablet apps, it's Foursquare.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Foursquare is planning to roll out some big changes today to the platform available on "big-screen devices," meaning tablets.

The geo-tagging business is touting that the big focus with this update is on discovery -- meaning a bigger map to better identify and find places nearby where your friends might be and/or potential places of interest to you.

A larger map with better details is certainly a dandy and useful item for a product like Foursquare to have, especially on tablets that sport larger displays to maximize the real estate of the map itself.

However, as you'll notice in the image to the right, these new tablet features are available on the browser version of the app, made in HTML 5, rather than an optimized app for iOS or Android.

Although it's big on smartphones (and it has to be considering the core feature is checking in from wherever you are with 3G/4G/Wi-Fi access), Foursquare doesn't have much of a presence on tablets. Sure, Foursquare has dabbled with Android as seen on Sony's Tablet S earlier this year.

But Foursquare doesn't seem to be interested (at least not publicly) in developing apps for each individual (OK, really only two at the moment) tablet mobile platform.

This points to the idea that Foursquare, among other major social media providers, could be leaning towards favoring HTML5 over building their own apps -- at least when it comes to tablets. (I can't see Foursquare revoking support for iOS and Android apps and pushing users to the browser any time soon -- if ever.)

One could argue that maybe Foursquare doesn't need to focus on tablets for a few reasons. For one, Wi-Fi only tablets tend to be more popular with consumers, thus potentially limiting the amount of times that one might use the device to check in somewhere.

At the same time, to access to the browser version of Foursquare, one obviously needs Internet access. If there was a tablet app, there's the possibility (should Foursquare want this feature) that one could save data and content for offline access, such as Lists and particular location pages.

Furthermore, there aren't any features that require in-app payments (yet) on Foursquare, so that point isn't blocking Foursquare from conceding to Apple App Store requirements.

Reports have previously circulated that Foursquare doesn't have the resources to build an iPad app. However, considering Foursquare was supposedly valued at $600 million by earlier this year, that can't be the reason anymore.

[Image via Foursquare]


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