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Foursquare's Swarm just added a map feature that will make you nostaglic

Key Points
  • Swarm, Foursquare's check-in app, just received an update to version 5.0.
  • There are a lot of UI changes but the functionality is largely familiar
  • I love the map feature, but I'm not sure there's enough to draw me back to using it

Foursquare just launched a major update to Swarm, its app that lets you check into locations.

If you remember Foursquare from the early days but haven't used it in ages, you should know that in 2014 the company split its business into two apps, and the "new" Foursquare app is for checking business listings, similar to Yelp. Swarm is similar to the original Foursquare app.

I admit I haven't used Swarm in more than a year and, on Twitter, I publicly asked if anyone still uses it or its sister app, Foursquare, which helps users find restaurant listings.

To my surprise, a company spokesperson said it still serves 50M monthly active users across Foursquare and Swarm. Go figure.

Compelled to see what the update includes, I installed it. Let's take a walk through it now.

A new homescreen

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Here's the new homescreen. It shows your most recent check-ins (I haven't checked-in since April 2016), as well as a map that shows you exactly where you've been. Scroll down your timeline and you can see your whole check-in history. Fascinating.

I love the map

My favorite feature is a map that shows everywhere I've ever checked in. There are old favorite restaurants I'd long forgotten about, for example, and reminders of spots I visited in faraway towns on vacations. This, I think, is the most compelling feature of the new Swarm app.

If you choose to check in, you'll see this screen

Todd Haselton | CNBC

This is pretty similar to what existed before, with the option to add emoji, a photo and a status. I have very few friends who use Swarm anymore, and none close enough that I care about their whereabouts, so I have little use for this.

Follow your friends

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Swarm still includes a leaderboard so, if you have friends who still use the app and who are nearby, you'll receive notifications. You can also climb the ranks as you check in at more locations.

An Inbox

Todd Haselton | CNBC

There's an inbox where you can see friend requests and updates on what you've done in the past, or where your friends visited during the week. There's a summary of a trip I took to Long Beach, NY four years ago which has little value to me.

100 badges to earn

Todd Haselton | CNBC

If you like collecting digital items, you'll like this feature. Swarm lets you collect up to 100 unique badges for different types of places you visit. I have 112 check-ins at airports (surprising) and 7 check-ins at arcades. I don't have a bank badge or any for arts & craft stores, though.

Final thoughts

Todd Haselton | CNBC

I'm not sure there's enough here to bring me back as a full-time user. The map is the only really compelling function, and I'd have to continue to remember to check-in in order for it to serve any future value. I star places I like on Google Maps now, so I'm not sure I really need this.

I used to love Foursquare and trying to climb the check-in charts or earn a spot as the mayor of a certain coffee shop. Swarm, the spin-off that kept a lot of those features, hasn't been as fun since my friends stopped using the app.

Maybe you'll find some value here, though. The Swarm 5.0 update is available for free on iOS and Android now.