March 24, 2016

Today, Swarm—Foursquare's younger sibling—launched a feature that sounds a bit on the creepy side, but is actually pretty useful. In its latest update, the app (normally used to help find friends to hang out with nearby) includes a section called “Places Visited,” which keeps track of everywhere you’ve been, regardless of whether you’ve checked in on Foursquare, Swarm, or elsewhere.

Yes, it sounds totally creepy. A record of every place you’ve visited? Maintained by a company that analyzes and uses data as its core business tenet? You might not be signing up for this one right away. But here’s why you should think about it:

First, having a paper trail (a digital trail?) of where you’ve been on vacation can be an immensely useful resource. As a frequent and planning-obsessed traveler myself, I make personalized Google Maps of each destination I visit, so that I have a way to share my favorite spots with friends who plan a trip to the same place. The one shortcoming to my strategy is that when I make a spontaneous discovery—like an excellent little sandwich shop I stumbled upon in Amsterdam—it’s not recorded in my map. Later on, when friends or family ask for recommendations, it’s long gone from memory, and quite difficult to track down. Enter Swarm with the solution.

Another reason to put aside your fears? Swarm’s default settings keep these lists fully private. And using the feature doesn’t require data usage. Visits are logged and confirmed over Wi-Fi connections, but the app can collect data based on your location coordinates even with Wi-Fi and data turned off. The company also says that the app should have minimal impact on battery life.

Lifelogging, as it’s called, has become a fast-growing trend—see other apps dedicated to recording your every move, like PolarSteps, and tiny cameras that you can affix to your lapel, like the Narrative Clip. Swarm’s embrace of the movement proves it’s here to stay and worth trying out—privacy is a luxury that’s long gone anyway, right? 

You May Like