Foursquare is one of those apps that you either love or hate, and many feel it is just another part of the oversharing culture of our online Instagram, Facebook and Twitter lives, where everything we do finds a home on the Internet. While there is something to be said for cautious (or private) Foursquare sharing, there is also something to be said for harnessing all that data that you’re saving.
Whether it’s tracking your movement, your expenses, or simply keeping a lifelog of your activities as you’re out and about, there’s quite a few ways you can get a lot more out of your Foursquare data.
Here are six ideas that will help you put all those check-ins to good use.
Create a Heat Map of Your Check-Ins
A very interesting way of visualizing your Foursquare activity is through the use of heat maps. Heat maps are a powerful way of displaying geographical data, with intensity of colour representing a higher volume of sorts.
So in the case of Foursquare check-ins, the more intense the colour, the more times you’ve checked in at a certain location or venue. A service, one that we’ve highlighted in the past, that allows you to do just that is Where Do You Go.
The app harnesses the power of Google Maps so you’ll have to log in with both your Google and your Foursquare accounts. Once you’re logged into both, you can search for your city, choose from a variety of colour schemes, and create a public link with your heat map to share with others. Of course, with this kind of sensitive information, it’s reassuring to know that you can delete your heat map with the simple click of a button. You can also delete your check-in information from the site entirely.
Find Out When You Last Visited a Place
An obvious and very useful way to get the most out of your Foursquare data is to find out when you last visited a specific place. If you check-in to places on a regular basis with Foursquare, you have a record of just about everywhere that you’ve gone. If you’re trying to remember when you last went to a popular restaurant, or what date you saw a movie at the cinema, just turn to your Foursquare checkins.
Foursquare comes with a fully searchable History tab. Just hover over your username in the top right hand corner and select History from the drop-down menu. You can search for specific locations, filter your checkins by area, the company you were with, or category.
If you want to be pleasantly surprised with remembering when you last visited a place, you could always use third party site, TimeHop. TimeHop, while it plugs into several other services including Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, allows you to connect to your FourSquare account. TimeHop will send you a daily email reminding you of something you did exactly one year ago. If you connect it only to your Foursquare account, you’ll get to take a trip down memory lane with a daily reminder of where you were exactly one year ago.
Lifelog with Foursquare
We’ve already given you an introduction to lifelogging and why you should be doing it, and Foursquare is certainly a service that fits right into the lifelogging category. You can use Foursquare to lifelog all your outings, and the best part is you don’t have to limit your activity to Foursquare itself. You can use an IFTTT recipe to automatically put your Foursquare checkins in a Google Drive spreadsheet, or you can add your Foursquare checkins to your Google Calendar.
If you’d prefer a more visual representation of your Foursquare activity, you can do that using Google Maps. Foursquare offers an in-depth guide on how to get your Foursquare checkins from the service onto a Google Map. All you need is your Foursquare feeds page, where you can copy the link to your KML link, and paste that link into a Google Maps search box.
Track Your Expenses and Mileage
If you use Foursquare to check-in to all the places that you spend money, you can use the service to keep track of where you’re spending your money. If you don’t want to share every location you go to with your followers or the public, you can always check-in privately too. Checking in at each location will keep a record of where you spend your time, and you can easily compare this with your bank statements to see where you’re spending a lot of money. We’d love to see private integration of a service like Mint and Foursquare to really give users a sense of where their money is being spent at a glance.
Until then, you can use a service like Fournancial. The drawback to using Fournancial is that you have to manually enter how much money you spent at each location. If you’re diligent about it, and enter the info every night after you get home, you can keep track of your spending. With Fournancial, you can view a piechart showing your spending divided by location, and you can also view your expenses on a map. Fournancial does seem to have a little signup bug. You will have to go through the ‘signup’ process every time – put in your email address and select a password, but it retains your information.
If you travel a lot, checking in at airports will give you access to some pretty useful information. Before leaving your location, check-in at the airport, and when you arrive, check-in at your arrival location. With a third party service like TripsQ you can generate a list of your trips, airports visited, itineraries and the number of miles (or kilometres depending on your preference) your travelled over each trip.
You can take the mileage one step further, and check-in when you’re travelling at each location, and have a complete record of your trips or holidays.
Share Check-ins on Facebook
Want your Facebook friends to know what you’re up to, regardless of whether or not they’re on Foursquare, all it takes is a simple IFTTT recipe. Automatically posting your Foursquare checkins to Facebook means that you don’t have to worry about checking in several times in different apps, and you can share your location with your friends.
Find Out Where to Go & Where to Get Discounts
Not only can you use Foursquare to harness your own data, you can get a little bit out of other people’s data too. We’ve found few third-party services that plug in to Foursquare data to create useful websites. When Should I Visit will let users know the least busy times to visit museums, galleries and theatres in London. On the Foursquare website itself, makes it possible to search for locations, choose a price-range, see the nearest specials, what’s open and more. When it comes to deals, Foursquare can notify you when there’s a deal nearby, or you can actively look for deals nearby using Check-in Deals.
Do you check-in all the time? Can you think of any more interesting uses for your Foursquare data? Let us know in the comments.
Image credit: I Was Here (Gwenaël Piaser)
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