A lot of buzz suddenly hit when CNET published a story announcing that Foursquare, the popular geo-location social network, had changed its user settings page to an open-entry text box for home location, replacing the previous drop-down pick-and-choose from a short list of cities.
This probably doesn’t seem like much to most people, but it’s actually a pretty big deal. One of the limitations that the new startups in the newly-emerging geo-location (or “geo-loc” or “geo-based”) social networks have faced is that their coverage was of a relatively small area. Usually limited by either the network’s own self-imposed boundaries (as with Tri-Out), or because of software or iPhone/Android network limits, which was the case with Foursquare.
Although, as Mashable points out, this is a “soft launch” of the new location choice, it will be rolling out to all Foursqaure users in the near future. Foursquare is now available on nearly all smart phone platforms, including the big two: iPhone and Android. Now that it’s also global, with users everywhere from Miami to Seattle (and now Yuma to Garyton) having access in their own home town, it will become even more popular.
In addition to the update to the location a user can set as their “home” port, friends lists on Foursquare are also changing. Users are no longer limited to friends only in their area (eg: the same “city”). They can now have friends world-wide. This is a big boon to travelers and the like and I foresee a lot of things changing in how people are using the app.
For instance, this opens up the possibility of not only meeting up with friends in disparate cities on a whim while traveling (5 hour layover in Boston? No prob, see who’s in the area and ask them to lunch), but also the possibility of virtual meetups as well. Better yet, it also opens up your friend network to the full 6-degrees, giving you the opportunity to find friends in your area who you wouldn’t have known about because your common acquaintance is 2,000 miles away on the other side of the map.
This is at once an obvious upgrade for Foursquare and at the same time it might be one of the most exciting and enabling. It’s possible it will be what makes the startup geo-loc app the new Twitter, knocking out closest competitor Gowalla.