Why Can't You Share Photos on FourSquare?

Adam DuVander
Feb. 01 2010, 01:46AM EST

As we have noted, FourSquare has become an extremely popular way to share where you are. However, unlike yesterday's hot location-sharing app, BrightKite, FourSquare does not have the ability to share photos. Is this an oversight, or is it an opportunity to fill a void?

At least one developer has pounced on photo sharing on FourSquare, but not as you might expect. Rather than create a mobile application, Sam Street wrote his own API, Fspic (details at our Fspic API profile).

Fspic FourSquare photo sharing

Street explained how photo-sharing is useful to the FourSquare API discussion list:

"The uploadPhoto API method will accept venue_ids and be able to perform venue checkins as well as text shouts. This makes for a great feature whereby you can see all the photos of a certain venue, and all photos of venues within a certain city."

That is, perhaps, a glimpse of the future. However, there are very few FourSquare clients now, with most developers using the API to read only. By far the most popular check-in client is the official application from FourSquare, which does not support photo uploading.

In order for photo sharing to even be very usable, clients will need to provide ways to actually used links passed during check-in, Street points out. Also, he thinks it would be useful to point to specific users (like Twitter's @reply), something also missing from FourSquare.

While Fspic may very well be useful, Street calls it "alpha testing stage." It first needs a more mature FourSquare ecosystem and then adoption within the developer community. Until then, among the options Street is considering is his own dedicated Fspic iPhone application to get things going.

Do you think people want to share photos on FourSquare? Are developers more likely to use Fspic or roll their own photo sharing?

Adam DuVander Hi! I'm Developer Communications Director for SendGrid and former Executive Editor of ProgrammableWeb. I currently serve as a Contributing Editor. If you have API news, or are interested in writing for ProgrammableWeb, please contact editor@programmableweb.com Though I'm a fan of anything API-related, my particular interest is in mapping. I've published a how-to book, Map Scripting 101, to get anyone started making maps on websites. In a not-so-distant past life I wrote for Wired and Webmonkey.

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Do you think people want to share photos on FourSquare?

Absolutely; video and audio as well. It needs to be part of a Venue so that when browsing locations you can get more than just the location and who's been there.

Are developers more likely to use Fspic or roll their own photo sharing?

Depends on the level and quality of integration coupled with developer complexity. Hopefully fspic can become the default but there will (and are) ultimately going to be alternatives.

Are there step by step instructions on how to add photos to 4sq. via any of these services? I tried flickr and it looked like it uploaded the photo but it doesn't appear in foursquare. Does it need to be done during checkin? If you have to add the venue tag, then where do you find the venue tag?

Just a heads-up: I'm the dev for the webOS foursquare app. Just got done adding in photo support for FSPic, tweetphoto, Pikchur, and Flickr, all of which can be tagged with a venue's ID to link it to the venue. All 4 of these sites provide 4square support.

I expect to release the version with this this week. I've been in constant contact with the 4square guys and they're pretty excited about this new feature I'm adding, so I'd expect it to be in other clients in the future.