Mar 12 AT 11:48 AM Clark Wimberly 12 Comments

Foursquare turns 1, gets a major update just in time for SXSW

foursquareball

It’s no secret that location, location, location is the hot topic here as we approach SXSW. Seems like nowadays everyone is jumping on board the location bandwagon, trying to get a piece of that sweet, social activity action. As new competitors erupt it has been interesting to watch the established guys step up their game to stay on top.

My profile, with activity

To that end, Foursquare has released a new update featuring a completely refreshed user interface and new SXSW content just in time for the big show. The new interface is a huge step up and is easily one of the nicer looking social apps available in the market.

The new interface features refreshed icons, an improved color scheme, and a handful of new features. The friends tab holds a nice stream of all your friend’s activity, as well as a leader board (for just your friends or your whole city). Places is a list of venues and locations you can check in to for badges and bragging rights while the Me tab is a central location for all your unlocked achievements.

Along with the new look comes some new content focused on SXSW. The Foursquare website updated a few days back with a look at all the new SXSW badges and hoopla, including a live game of foursquare (the playground hit) in downtown Austin.

Last night while we were out running around Austin with friends I noticed the new update notification for Foursquare. I’d heard a new user interface was on the way so I quickly grabbed the app and fired it up to find new, in-app SXSW content. When I check in to an Austin location Foursquare adds a SXSW banner at the bottom for keeping track of all your Austin accolades.

SXSW stats

The app also will let you create a venue, something sorely missing from the Gowalla native app. Unlike Gowalla, however, Foursquare will let you check in to a location when you are miles from it, sort of defeating the point of the app being location-aware. But if you can trust your social graph there is plenty of fun to be had here.

Foursquare launched at last year’s SXSW event so this is somewhat of a birthday for them. In just a year they’ve been able to pick up more than 500,000 users and over 1.4 million venues.

So for those of you coming to SXSW: make sure you have Foursquare installed (and Gowalla for that matter. This week I’ll be running both). It should a pretty easy way to find out what’s going on where and with who (in theory, at least). Check out a full gallery of screens below:

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Clark is a developer living in Austin, Texas. He runs ClarkLab, a small web firm with his wife, Angie. He's a big fan of usability, standards, and clean design.

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