This location-based service uses your smart phone to track where you shop, eat, relax, and have fun. It can also help you keep you in touch with fellow community explorers, point out new places to hang out, and help you earn discounts on clothing, drinks, meals, and more. To check in to locations, you must download the mobile app (available for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Nokia, Palm, and Windows Phone). Check-ins earn you points and badges, as well as mayorships for being the one who checks into a venue the most (which can result in a free drink, or just bragging rights).
While you can check in from your phone’s Foursquare app, check-in fatigue is a whopper of a problem. Fight the disease with apps such as Check-In Droid for Android and CheckMate or Future Checkin for iOS. These check you in to frequented venues automatically.
2. Earn badges
Some badges are easy to earn, such as the Newbie badge that you earn for your first check-in. Others can require work. For instance, the Zoetrope badge is earned by checking into movie theaters 10 times. The Bender badge is earned by checking into a venue four or more times in a row.
Some badges can only be earned by adding a tag to a venue. That means visiting a venue’s Foursquare page on the desktop, scrolling to the bottom, clicking Edit, and filling in words that help identify the place to other users. For instance, adding “pizza” to a restaurant that serves pizza can get you close to the Pizzaiolo badge, which is earned by checking into 20 restaurants that have the Pizza tag.
3. Share what you liked
Big fan of the cocktails at your favorite after-work bar? Be sure to leave recommendations, advice, or warnings in the form of a tip for later Foursquare visitors. Check into a venue on the mobile app, hit menu (or the light bulb icon on the iPhone version of the app) and select Leave Tip.
Chat with fellow Foursquare users with ChatSquare, an app for iOS and Android devices that lets you talk to others who have checked into a particular place using a venue-specific chatroom.
5. Keep it private
Opt out of Who’s Here lists that show Foursquare buddies at your location. To do this, log in to the desktop version, click Settings, and uncheck “Show me in the ‘Who’s here’ list in the mobile app.” You can also use “Off the Grid” shouts (a shout is the Foursquare version of a status update) to check into locations without revealing your actual location. To change this setting, un-check Tell My Friends (or Share With Friends, on iOS) when you’re about to check into a venue.