Swarm is the new gold standard for check-ins, picking up where the old Foursquare left off, before it morphed into a crowdsourced recommendations app. Swarm also offers several improvements to the old Foursquare model to maintain user engagement.
Fast check-ins: Checking in on Swarm couldn't be easier. Just click the location button on the top right of the main page, and Swarm will find your location and generate a list of most of the businesses in your vicinity. Select your location and, if appropriate, take or attach a photo, and tag your partners in crime directly from this screen. Hit the Check In button to complete the process. You can then share to Facebook or Twitter by clicking their respective buttons.
Streamlined interface: Gone is the cluttered original Foursquare interface, replaced by a more streamlined, colorful experience, heavily featuring a cheery shade of orange.
Time-saving stickers: Swarm has added cute stickers to further ease check-in. You no longer need to type what you're doing at a venue. If you're at the gym, for example, just click the barbell.
Friend finder: There are two ways to find your friends using Swarm. One is to click the far-left honeycomb icon. There you will find friends who have their location sharing on, grouped together by distance category: Right here, A short walk away, Nearby, In the area, A bit farther away, and Far far away. Click the adjacent contacts icon to discover your friends' actual check-ins.
Privacy: Even when location sharing is activated in Privacy Settings, only your general location is listed publicly. Your exact location is safe with you, unless you actually check in. Under Privacy Settings you can also choose whether to allow your friends to tag you in their check-ins.
Plans: Click the Plans icon, which looks like an old-school desk calendar, to see and respond to your friends' plans. You may also create your own and wait for your friends to join.
Limited features: While Swarm has added certain features that the original Foursquare lacked, Swarm is still little more than a glorified check-in app that you probably won't spend too much time on.
Facebook and Twitter check-ins: With the ability to check in directly from Facebook and Twitter, busy users probably won't want to log in to Swarm for simple check-ins.
Pride over plans: During weeks of testing, we never saw any friends or acquaintances attempting to make plans on Swarm. It's possible that many individuals won't want to so publicly ask their friends to hang out.
Swarm is a huge improvement over the original Foursquare check-in app. Its more colorful, modernized, and streamlined interface is a pleasure to navigate. But by offering little beyond check-ins -- which are also available on Facebook and Twitter -- Swarm is a hard sell for those who are already overloaded with social media apps.