You know Foursquare as the check-in social network. But what about the pre-check-in social network?
Behold: Forecast, a fun and simple way for friends to share where they’re going.
If a Foursquare check-in says, “I’m here, suckers,” a Forecast post says, “hey, I will be here, care to join?” It’s about using virtual means to get together and do non-virtual stuff. Imagine that.
The first version of Forecast was launched over the summer, but the team has been working hard to make improvements and take the app to the next level.
I recently spoke with René Pinnell, CEO and Designer for Forecast, which is set to release its updated version 2.0 today. Here’s a quick look at the future of future check-ins.
Tell me about the new features for version 2.0. What problems does it solve? Why is it better than version 1.5?
RP: This coming Tuesday we’ll be officially launching out of private beta with Forecast 2.0, which includes a number of new updates and features that we’ve developed in the interim.
2.0 also importantly takes advantage of deep Facebook integration, and our new website unlocks the experience beyond just mobile devices. Both of those moves we see as necessary for reaching more users and making Forecast valuable to a more general audience.
We’ve spent the past 6 months collecting user feedback, building out the product to make it as intuitive and streamlined as possible, and really figuring out how to most effectively facilitate those connections in the real world among your social network.
We’ve used Foursquare as our testing ground, because Foursquare users are naturally aligned to be Forecast power users. And we’ve gotten great traction from Foursquare as a test bed, with nearly 100,000 users testing the app in beta. And now that we feel we’ve really got the experience locked in and streamlined, we are ready to bring Forecast to more users and a more mainstream audience – to get more people off the sidelines (and off their couches) and out doing stuff.
How would you define your relationship with Foursquare? Competitor? Partner? Just a mechanism for signing up?
RP: We view ourselves as complimentary to Foursquare. Interestingly enough, we’ve talked to the Foursquare guys a lot over the past year, and there’s obviously a lot about Forecast that complements what they do. But it’s also become clear that their interests and focuses are very different at this point, which is one of the reasons we created the app in the first place.
It is really a simple idea, obvious even, which is also one of the reasons we think it’s been so successful and we’ve had so much interest already.
And it sounds like an easy to thing to do, right? But we learned really quickly that to do it effectively and do it well is actually pretty difficult. We’ve learned with our work over the past few years that to create something that is super streamlined and keep it simple is actually incredibly difficult.
And we feel that’s one of the reasons that most other folks in this space haven’t had the success or traction that we’ve had just in the beta. We’ve just listened closely to our users and made Forecast as simple and effective as possible, just letting your friends know where you are going to be and what you are doing.
What do you think users like most about Forecast?
RP: Forecast is about is getting people more involved — our users have more fun, and hang out more with their friends.
They’re not spending time together online or on Facebook, but doing stuff in the real world. They’re getting up and they’re getting out. Because in the time between when a forecast is made and the check-in is executed, all kinds of magic can happen. That’s simple, but it’s also really powerful.
As we like to say: Make It Worth Your Timeline
For example, you can Forecast to your friends that you are having dinner in at Uchiko and they might be able to offer up some recommendations on what to order. Or if you’re going for drinks afterward, let your friends know and they can meet up.
This isn’t about group messaging, I should note, Forecast isn’t for merely coordinating — it’s about broadcasting (or narrowcasting) your intentions and opening up your plans to your friends on whatever level you like.
Do you guys have plans to be at TechWeek Chicago again this summer?
RP: I definitely plan on it!
Forecast is available for iOS and Android. Check it out and let us know what you think.