How to use Foursquare
Foursquare is one of a number of social network sites where you and your friends can log your location and who you are with. Its a good way of keeping track of where you've been, allowing you to become the "Mayor" of locations that you've been to most, as well as recommending places you like. This guide is largely based on the Android version of the App, although there are very few differences.
What you'll need:
A smartphone or tablet capable of running the app. This includes iPhones/iPads, Android phones, Blackberries and many others.
Visit the website and set up an account using a normal browser either on a traditional computer, tablet or mobile internet access. This is very straightforward and involves clicking on the "Join Now" button and giving over some personal information before being invited to download the correct app for the device you are using. It is usually possible to download the app beforehand from your phone's appstore/market and create an account from there, but this way means you can immediately link your profile page to your account.
After the app has been downloaded and installed, you can check in! You need to allow the GPS to be activated on your phone, but beware that this can seriously affect battery life, so try not to leave it running. As with all GPS systems, it can be temperamental and often needs "line of sight" with satellites to work properly, which tends to mean you need to be outside or at least close to an exterior wall. This is not affected in the same way as your phone's signal.
Once you have your GPS sorted the app should present you with a list of nearby locations in the "Places" tab. If these locations don't match up with where you are, you may have to refresh the GPS signal. If your location does not appear on this list, you may wish to perform a manual search (On Android this is Menu -> search or pressing the phone's built in search button). If you searched for "Starbucks", it may well give you a large list of locations, but all with relative distances. It should be obvious whether the locations found in the search are the ones you are looking for.
If your location has not come up after searching, you may wish to add it yourself. On Android, this is done by using Menu -> Add Venue. Also this can be done online later if you know the postcode. Venues that you have added yourself can also be edited through your online profile at a later date. If you are adding your own home as a venue it is possible to make it a vague area rather than an actual house, it is up to you how much information you want to hand out.
So, having found or added your current location, you can now check in by going to the location's page and pressing the large green button that says "Check In Here". It also gives information about who is the current "Mayor" of this location. Some businesses run special offers for "Mayors" of their locations, and it is possible for you to claim ownership of your venues and do such things yourself.
When checking in you can choose to leave a message for friends to see. You can also link your account to other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, making it possible to post your "Check-ins" onto other sites if you wish.
You are encouraged to leave tips for others at your favourite venues, as well as ticking off which tips you have followed when you check in to a location.
You can invite friends from other social networking sites and also through emails to get involved, and tells you when you both "Check-in" at the same place. You can follow their progress on the "Friends" tab.
Foursquare is quite a fun concept that allows you to explore your city in a different way. The generated list of nearby locations can be extremely helpful when finding a new place to eat or drink. For those of you who secretly enjoy stats and maps, it also gives you a comprehensive breakdown of how many places you visit, and where you visit most often, as well as having secondary mapping apps online.
4mapper and Where Do You Go? are two services which can map your "check-ins" out for you.
Foursquare promise they will never share your information with anyone else, and even friends can only see limited check-ins, but do be careful if you don't want people to know where you are.