- Integrated app with native features like BlackBerry® Messenger 6 (BBM 6™) and BlackBerry® Push Services
- First BBM-enabled version of foursquare was built in one week
- Leverages new BlackBerry® 7 APIs
- Robust SDKs, detailed documentation, and APIs like Geolocation result in smooth development
BlackBerry Developer Success Story - foursquare
Founded at a New York City kitchen table in the fall of 2008, foursquare® has quickly become a worldwide phenomenon. Users from every corner of the globe have used the application to meet up with friends, win prizes, and discover the world around them. Earlier this year, foursquare celebrated its one billionth Check-in™ across all platforms.
Pete Nofelt, Manager of BlackBerry Development for foursquare, talked to us about the firm's relationship with Research In Motion® (RIM®), the importance of integrating the application with BBM® 6, and the development tools that have helped him develop a better app more quickly and easily.
Q: Why has the partnership between foursquare and RIM been so important to its growth?
Pete: RIM was one of the first companies that offered us support and who really understood the social media experience. Even when we were essentially independent developers, RIM was open and willing to reach out to us and help us grow on the platform. RIM understands that it's all about making a great experience for its users, platform, and third party developers. The company offers a service that is really unique and that we haven't seen on other platforms.
Q: How do you integrate foursquare with the BlackBerry smartphone's native features and functions?
Pete: It's a big win that we can offer a very integrated solution to help make a third party app feel more like a native app. We leverage certain features like contacts, which allow a foursquare user to quickly add other users to their contact list. We use the Push service to help send check-ins instantly. Even if you don't have foursquare open, you can see your friends check in somewhere with a small window that pops open. It tightens those relationships, by knowing when your friends are nearby and what they're up to. It also allows us to push notifications with a variety of options in terms of the type and structure of data we send.
For a developer, pretty much everything continues to improve from even a year ago: there's better support for location, data connection, for multi-layered applications and the ability to fully integrate with BBM. There are a lot of really unique services that are available to the BlackBerry platform that should be really exciting to new developers.
Q: What makes BBM 6 so important to the foursquare experience?
Pete: BBM is a tight social network, it's something that isn't available on other platforms, and it has allowed us to quickly grow the usage of the app and leverage a really robust toolset of communication and utilities. The purpose of foursquare is to share live information with your friends and BlackBerry smartphones have been crucial in supporting that goal.
With BBM 6, viral features like being able to feature the app in your profile are key. You can share the badges you've just earned, even with people who don't have foursquare installed. When those users click on that info, they connect to the BlackBerry World™ storefront, which helps us grow the number of users on the BlackBerry platform. When BBM 6 was released, we doubled our previous record for downloads in a day.
Q: How important is the BlackBerry Java Plug-in for Eclipse?
Pete: The BlackBerry® Java® Plug-in for Eclipse® offers a more modern and flexible development experience, since it's a standard, open source tool. It allows us to leverage all the different plug-ins and sometimes even provide a development solution that RIM hasn't thought about before. For example, we can install Eclipse plug-ins for code analysis and it can run our foursquare code without issue since it's Java and an open platform. We can quickly isolate known bugs, dependency issues or other components of the actual application. Eclipse has not only allowed us to expand our day-to-day development cycle in terms of writing codes more productively, it's also helped us better analyze code and understand it.
Q: How has RIM's other development tools helped you?
Pete: RIM has really understood the value of building good tools for its developers and in the past couple years their focus on that has been tremendous. When we integrated BBM 6, we downloaded the SDK, rolled out a test version of the current features and had a final version within a week. RIM has always had a robust SDK and great documentation and has always been considerate of its users and has been professional in its approach towards supporting SDKs.
For example, with all the changes made to their OS 7 release, like Liquid Graphics™ technology, we're able to take advantage of these performance improvements without having to make any foursquare specific code changes. Similarly, the location support APIs are really important, particularly Geolocation and Wi-Fi® Lookup. The great thing about the Geolocation support is that it's already built into the OS and RIM was able to retrofit it and improve upon it.
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