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Foursquare Data Incorporated Into Microsoft's Cortana Software

Check-In App Finds New Home

Microsoft have integrated Foursquare’s location technology and database into Cortana, the voice-activated aspect of Windows Phones along the lines of Siri or Google Now. Microsoft invested $15 million in Foursquare earlier this year, and this move can be seen as a step towards an even closer partnership between the two companies.

Foursquare will benefit further from this collaboration, having access to data tracking the movements and locations of Windows Phone users. In addition, users will be able to use the combined data gathered from their searches using Cortana and their activity in Foursquare to personalise their Bing search results.

This one of a series of major moves for Foursquare in recent months, the most notable of which being the splitting of the app into two constituent parts last month. Foursquare has now ditched check-ins and become a more personalised recommendation app, suggesting nearby locations based on user preferences. Check-ins moved across to new app Swarm, which continued the social aspect of pre-split Foursquare while Foursquare itself now focuses more on a Yelp-like review system.

The divide has not been without its problems; take-up for Swarm has been slow and it currently sits with a one and a half star rating on the App Store. Many users are confused as to why Foursquare felt that splitting its function into two apps was necessary, and the original Foursquare app’s pressure on users to download Swarm has turned many off both. Swarm is also tied more closely to Facebook and Twitter, with users being encouraged to share their location across a variety of social networking sites - something many are not happy with.

This new partnership with Microsoft may provide answers to some of these questions. If Foursquare is looking to integrate more completely with Windows hardware, in the same way that Google Now became an integral part of the Nexus before spreading to other Android phones, then the divide makes sense.
Foursquare’s recommendation and ratings database is relatively straightforward to incorporate into Cortana's software, but to also deal with the capacity for user tracking and check-ins may be overwhelming and disliked by many.

Users will still have the option to check in with Foursquare as long as they also have the Swarm app installed on their phones, and there have been updates to allow photo posts and to improve the speed and accuracy of location fetching. If Swarm does take off then it may be the first truly mobile social network, with a real-world functionality grounded in the flexible world of mobile social media. By separating it from the parent app Foursquare have certainly made this a possibility, although as ever the real test lies in whether users want their social networking to be accompanied by data telling people where they are to within the metre.

Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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Foursquare Data Incorporated Into Microsoft's Cortana Software Reviewed by Anonymous on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 Rating: 5
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