Foursquare’s in trouble after Yelp’s latest app update

10 Jul

I’m one of those people who checks in on Foursquare everywhere I go, to the point where the last girl I hung out with used to give me a hard time about it. But then she slept with another guy on my birthday, so we don’t talk anymore.

But forget my relationship, now one of my favorite apps is in deeper trouble than ever. Not because the product is getting worse, or because it’s not useful – it is. In fact, I love Foursquare. But Yelp’s latest app update is just another blow to the location-based social network.


One thing that girl did do before breaking my heart was introduce me to Yelp. Not that I hadn’t heard of it, I just never really used it until we hung out, but she often used it to pick where we ate. So I developed this habit of checking into places on both apps everywhere I went.

Sure, a lot of my friends are on Foursquare, and it’s fun to see who’s nearby, especially in a place like New York City. And there are also some decent specials, fun tips and worthwhile recommendations, all bolstered by Foursquare’s explore upgrades.

But there are three things Yelp has that Foursquare doesn’t, including Tuesday’s mega app update. It’s bad enough that Foursquare is having trouble monetizing, but now it’s the clear bridesmaid among check-in-based apps. Here’s why:

1. Useful Profiles:


You can click on a Yelp user’s profile and see, among other things: compliments; rating distribution; fans; recognitions. There many more things, which you can see above, or view on a profile like Alexandra’s, who I don’t know and chose at random. The more accolades someone has, the more you can (theoretically) trust their reviews, which is especially helpful with “bought reviews” floating around.

The Yelp profile features I highlighted were carefully selected for the way they dominate Foursquare’s parallel features, if Foursquare even has comparable features. And in the last two major differences, they don’t.

2. Ratings: No need to over-think this one. On Yelp, you can give fairly long, detailed reviews of businesses. On Foursquare, you can only give tips. i.e. “Try the shrimp linguini – it’s great!” You can leave tips on Yelp, too, which is part of the beauty. If I want to know specific things about what to do when I get somewhere, I’ll check the tips. But before I even decide, I’ll check the reviews, which are rated from 1-5 stars.

Foursquare has some kind of rating system, too, but it’s based on a formula that’s supposed to be tailored to your profile. Instead of being able to read what others say about a place in more than a couple hundred characters, an arbitrary rating on a scaled of 1-10 pops up when I pull up a business on Foursquare. I can never actually rate a business, not even with a simple “like” or “don’t like” feature. Not helpful.

3. Delivery Option: Last, but certainly not least, comes from Tuesday’s app update. (Androids excluded for now – sorry.) Apparently the feature isn’t available in all locations yet, but eventually you’ll be able to order straight from your Yelp app. No phone calls, no outbound links – nothing. Yelp’s basic listings (phone, hours, address/map) were already more useful than Foursquare’s, but to add a delivery option is a monster step forward. And that’s not just a blow to Foursquare, but Seamless and any other delivery-based apps, too. Even if you don’t have anyone with whom to order in.

Do you use Foursquare and/or Yelp? What are your pros and cons of each?


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