The Kickball slogan.
A new iPhone app makes messing around on Foursquare a more-visual experience than ever before.
The app is called Kickball, and it more tightly incorporates maps into the Foursquare experience. It has many of the same features as the official Foursquare app, like check-ins, history, badges, tips and shouts, and the list view that shows all your friends’ statuses.
But Kickball (App Store link) ups the ante by letting you plot all of the current Foursquare activity within your network on a map. You can see where your friends are, zooming in and panning around to different neighborhoods. Also, at any time, you can pop up a map that shows you the 15 venues in the Foursquare system that are closest to your current location. Kickball uses Mixer Labs’ GeoAPI, which is now owned by Twitter, for location data.
This discovery feature is especially handy if you’re in a city or a neighborhood you don’t know that well. Even in a place I know all too well (the Wired office), I was able to see all the places within about 100 yards where I can go fight for mayorships. Oh, it’s ON.
While you’re browsing one of these maps, and you zoom in on a friend or on a venue, you get a button that says, “I’m here too,” making it easy to check in with one click. Equally as accessible within the app is the “Off the grid” choice. There’s also the ability to view details about a place, view relevant tweets and add photos (something else missing from Foursquare).
I’ve been using both Kickball and Foursquare’s official iPhone apps side by side for a couple of days, and the map experience in Kickball is far better than the map experience in Foursquare. The user interface in Kickball is also a little less chaotic than Foursquare. Both have their ups and downs, but if you’ve been wanting a stronger, more elegant integration of maps, Kickball is your answer.
Just a few days ago, Foursquare and Microsoft announced that Bing’s mapping service will begin to pull in Foursquare data, allowing a Bing user to be able to perform many of the same Kickball-style searches and discovery tasks on its maps site. But Kickball is more convenient, since you get what’s more relevant to you directly inside the app — and without the Silverlight.
There are big plans for the future, according to the development team, Portland, Oregon’s Gorlochs. Kickball will soon integrate Gowalla and Brightkite and make the Twitter integration tighter. But for now, it’s all about Foursquare, and it’s iPhone only.
The iPhone app is free and available now in the App Store. The “for a limited time” tag on the free price point is a hint that Kickball may be a paid app soon.
Kickball was released this week to coincide with the all-things-location Where 2.0 conference, which kicks off in San Jose, California, on Tuesday and runs through Thursday.