Foursquare is pivoting to a focus on place recommendations – e.g. restaurants and cafes – and this made us wonder how the app actually stacks up to the competition already there. Food is the biggest category and since we are in Singapore and food is inherently local, we examine the competition here: Yelp, Hungrygowhere, SoShiok, 8 Days Eat, Pickat and Burpple in addition to Foursquare.

We pit all seven apps against each other, reality game style, to see who comes out on top. The answer may surprise you.

Note: We tested the iPhone versions of all seven apps.

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Mac computers have been steadily eating away at Microsoft’s share of the PC market the past few years; enough so that Panos Panay appointed the MacBook Air as the Surface Pro 3’s competition.  As PCs become increasingly lifestyle products, the Mac will continue to gain share.

When we say Macs are amazing, you’re probably thinking about its sexy look and premium finish; it’s proprietary software; it’s reputation for reliability (sometimes undeserved); the slick commercials; the aspirational Apple brand; or perhaps even unwarranted PR hype.

But you’d be wrong.  The most amazing thing about the Mac isn’t all those things, things that drive market demand; it’s Apple’s peerless ability to convert demand into profit.  And that’s about good old fashioned operations.

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Recently, Foursquare had split itself into two: one new app, Swarm, to focus on check-ins and seeing friends’ locations; and a new recommendations app to compete with Yelp. The latter will keep the Foursquare name.

This division makes no sense. We’re not even talking about the wisdom behind unbundling, although that’s still questionable. Founder Dennis Crowley made that division because he thinks recommendations is the future and he wants to give it the best possible start, thus inheriting the Foursquare namesake and its 40 million user base. This is success theater because what makes more sense is for recommendations to be the new app, and for Foursquare to still be about check-ins.

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We previously wrote how Skype did a smart thing by creating one consistent design for its version 5 across iPhone, Android and Windows Phone.  It’s smart because it will save time and raise the probability of a high performing, consistent experience.

App developers should test and iterate their apps’ design until satisfied of greatness.  If you have a different design for each OS, that’s multiple times the amount of work needed to test and iterate.  Totally unnecessary.  A great design is universally intuitive; an iPhone user will be able to use a well-designed Android app and vice versa.  And if they can’t — requiring the back button to navigate the Android version for example — guess what, that’s not a great design.

There are many examples of good cross-platform design and the most obvious one is Instagram.  The Android version is nearly identical to the iPhone version.  When the design works, why risk changing things just for the sake of the OS?  Of course, you should still take into account each OS’ quirks.  For example, with feecha the sharing function is native to Android, whereas we had to custom build it for iPhone.  But if we were to port feecha to Windows Phone, it will look exactly like our design for iPhone and Android.

Then there are apps that are designed differently for iPhone and Android, and often to bad results.  One such example is Yahoo Sports.

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“You have to be in mobile,” venture capitalists will instruct you.  “We have to be in mobile,” tech giants like Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo will echo.  Obviously, it’s because we’re living in a mobile-first world.

Yet, becoming the next Instagram or Snapchat is insanely difficult and increasingly so.  A hit app is a rarer unicorn than a hit website.  Why?  Unlike websites, apps aren’t linked to each other; you can’t click on a link to discover a new app, you have to purposefully search and download it from the app store.  Then you have to learn how to use the app before finally getting some value out of it.  Some apps — especially on Android but even from bluebloods like Facebook — behave badly and mistreat your phone’s battery or privacy settings.

The result of the above is that, according to Nielsen, most people use only 30 apps on their phone.  What are the chances your mobile app can make a person’s top 30?  Let’s break down how difficult a threshold that truly is.  What are the 30 apps you’d typically use?

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So Nvidia announced its Shield Tablet, an 8-inch, 1920×1200 display with two front-facing speakers priced at $300.  But the real cost is $400 as you’ll want to get the $60 controller and $40 kickstand cover; both specifically made for Shield.

What’s special about this tablet is that it has a beastly Tegra K1 processor, which on paper destroys the iPad Air and other Android tablets.  As you might have guessed, this is a tablet made for gaming.

Should you get it?  I guess if you like games and in the market for a small Android tablet…sure?  The price is fair for what it can do.  The endorsement is not ringing however because I’m not sure what problem this solves — most high end tablets today are plenty powerful for games — and because I think the 8-inch screen size is just too small for a gaming tablet.

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Yahoo has acquired Flurry for a reported $200 to $300 million.  Ostensibly it’s for Flurry’s targeting ability and fledgling ad network; but I have a more sinister suspicion, totally unfounded.

To wit: Yahoo’s ambition is to be your daily habit, whether that’s mail, news, weather, etc.  Increasingly, that means mobile.  However, their impact there so far is questionable.  What Yahoo app is a must-have?  None.  How can they be smart enough or visionary enough to create the next Snapchat?  The next Instagram?

Flurry can be the answer.  Mine the Flurry database and analyze which apps are doing well — based not on fluff like hype and press coverage, but on the actual metrics that count like growth, retention and engagement.  Study those apps and then decide whether it’s something Yahoo should clone.

Nutty conspiracy theory?  Maybe.  Given Yahoo’s disappointing results so far, Marissa Mayer may decide it’s time to change the rules of the game.  “What matters is we build products that people love,” she said.  If Yahoo can’t do that on a level playing field, maybe it’s time to cheat a little with Flurry.