A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Foursquare Check-Ins. Or At Least One.

Screen shot 2010-01-04 at 12.31.58 PMOne of the greatest things to rise out of the existence of the Twitter ecosystem has been all the picture services that allow you to quickly and easily send out images to your social graph. And now here they come for Foursquare too.

Thanks to the release of the Foursquare API, third-party developers are already starting to take advantage of the location-based service’s data, and building things on top of it. Jon Steinberg, who recently joined Polaris Venture Partners as an Executive-In-Residence, and before that worked at Google, helped create one of the first third-party apps using this API, SocialGreat. And now he’s at it again, hiring an elancer to create, an app that allows you to check-in on Foursquare simply by sending out a picture.

Here’s how this works: Once you visit the site and give the service permission to access your Foursquare data via OAuth, you’re given a unique email address where you will mail your pictures to. Assuming you have a smartphone that tags your photos with EXIF data that contains location information (such as the iPhone and a bunch of Android phones), when you email this photo to the address, it will pull the location information and send it to Foursquare, checking you in where the picture was taken. This is then sent to Twitter (assuming you have Twitter linked up to tweet when you check-in on Foursquare) with a link to a page that includes the picture, the date and time, and a Google Map embed showing exactly where it was taken. The subject of the email you sent is then added to the “shout” area of Foursquare.

One downside is that currently, the app is unable to guess the name of your location from this EXIF data. Instead, it simply puts in that you’re at a specific address. That means that in your Foursquare stream, you will see an address rather than a place name (and obviously, that won’t help you earn mayorships or get points). Steinberg says that he hopes to be able to eventually guess the name of the location you are at based on the data you send, perhaps even using SocialGreat data to do so.

As for the address information itself, it seems to work pretty well. In my initial tests, it was a little off, but not by much. “I think accuracy is a strongsuit,” Steinberg says. He also notes that eventually he hopes Foursquare will support hyperlinks so that they can send a link to the page right to the Foursquare stream too.

Regardless of the few minor downsides, this is a very cool new way to check-in on Foursquare. And it shows the potential of Foursquare’s API, as eventually, it should become more common place to do things such as tag pictures to locations you are at. As Steinberg notes in his post on the service, other services such as Flickr and Posterous have beenĀ utilizingĀ location data in images for a while, but none currently tie in with Foursquare. That would seem to make the first “TwitPic for Foursquare.”

Note: Steinberg wanted us to point out that the service, which again, was built by an elancer may not be able to hold up to the pressure a post like this one may put on it, so please be patient.

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