I first saw Foursquare in action last summer on the N97 24/7 Tour. It seemed like it was already more popular than Brightkite, the location-based service that I use here in Toronto. So I was quite excited to hear that Foursquare was coming to my hometown, and immediately signed up for it.
And I seriously don't get it.
In the series of screen grabs below I'll compare a sample check-in using the two services. The establishment in question is The Village Idiot, a local watering hole.
Screen 1 shows that I've successfully used Foursquare to check in at "Village Idiot" -- which was the exact text I entered. And look, I won a prize!
Screen 2 shows the correct intersection and phone number of the establishment in question, but bewilderingly, the Google Maps co-ordinates are way off. I've read elsewhere that Foursquare is supposed to hook in to Google Maps and Yelp, but there's certainly no evidence of that here. What's the point of broadcasting your location if your friends can't find you?
Screen 3 shows that Brighkite has called up the correct address for the pub, and...
Screen 4 shows the correct location on Google Maps.
As with any social networking thingy, the more people using the service the more compelling it gets. Brightkite's biggest failing is that for whatever reason there are some listings it can't pull up. But at least the listings it does find are accurate.
I fully suspect that the Android, BlackBerry and iPhone apps for Foursquare provide a better experience than the old-school mobile site. Can anyone confirm that?