According to Foursquare, these two features were among the most requested from its users for months, a signal that, perhaps, folks are beginning to demand more social elements from check-in apps: rewards, either virtual or tangible, are just not enough.
A post on the official Foursquare company blog says that the added features make Foursquare "more useful and social," a statement that addresses the negative sentiments spouted by those who claim they "don't see the point" of check-in apps, and call them useless.
Now, you can comment on your friends' check-ins, a feature which serves as an additional form of communication for the service's users. Previously, communication was limited to shouts, tips and comments on your own check-ins, the latter which could be syndicated to Twitter and Facebook. You can even add comments while browsing the Foursquare.com website itself too, allowing for a second opportunity to interact with other users.
Perhaps even more anticipated than comments, however, is photos. The addition of photo posting "changes everything," reads the Foursquare blog. You can "see dishes before ordering them, figure out if a venue looks fun, or easily identify a hard-to-find spot."
Photos will be syndicated over to your history page on Foursquare.com, transforming it into more interesting life-stream of sorts, where photos and comments will be preserved alongside your checkins.
The new comments feature is also integrated with iPhone's push notifications system and there are privacy settings that can apply to photos.
With this update, Foursquare is clearly responding to user feedback - even its most-engaged users are beginning to tire of the check-in for check-ins' sake, it seems. They want more than the occasional coupon or reward, badge or crown. Innovative photo-sharing startups like Instagram have been able to capitalize on users' desire to share comments and photos along with their location. However, on Instagram, the roles are reversed - photos come first, location second. With Foursquare, it's the other way around.
Foursquare even makes mention of Instagram in its post, noting that, as a Foursquare partner, photos taken with the app can be syndicated over to Instagram. With this comment, it almost sounds as if Foursquare thinks of Instagram as just another third-party application built on top of Foursquare's API (application programming interface), as opposed to its own standalone community.
Photos from Foodspotting and another location-sharing app picplz will now flow into Foursquare, too.
Although today's update is only for users of the iPhone app, Foursquare says that Android users will get a new app later this week, Palm and BlackBerry users will see an update in January and other major platforms will be addressed in early 2011. In the near future, additional features will be added, says Foursquare: photos shared with Foursquare users will be able to be posted to Facebook and Flickr, comment tracking will be improved and photos will be archived in a "more useful place."