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.