Smartphones are used for everything these days, whether it’s tweeting, getting directions, or solving heated arguments between friends over whether that actor was in that one movie or not. One app that’s really on the rise, however, is the check-in service – particularly the location-based social networking platform foursquare.

Smartphones are used for everything these days, whether it’s tweeting, getting directions, or solving heated arguments between friends over whether that actor was in that one movie or not. One app that’s really on the rise, however, is the check-in service – particularly the location-based social networking platform foursquare.

foursquare isn’t just used to tell your friends where you are. It makes cities easier to navigate, and makes finding new and exciting places as simple as the click of a button (or tap of a touchscreen). To start using it, download the app onto your phone and create an account. You can link your profile with your Facebook and Twitter accounts to find your friends who are already on foursquare, and to share your check-ins on those social platforms.

Then, next time you go out, experience the joy of checking in! Whether you’re at the office, hitting up the local bars, or out bowling, checking in becomes an addiction after you’ve done it a few times. You can attach cool pictures or “shouts” to your check-ins to share with your friends.

There are a number of advantages to checking in. The most popular is the foursquare Special. Some venues offer perks for users who check in, such as discounts and freebies. Locations with Specials have a nice, big noticeable icon next to their name on the app, so if you’re checking hot spots near you, you can’t miss it.

Second, you can earn digital “badges” for accomplishing certain check-in tasks. While they don’t have any monetary value, badges allow you to show off all the cool things you’ve done. For example, if you go to the gym 10 times in one month, you’ll be awarded the “Gym Rat” badge (Unfortunately I have yet to earn it, which probably means I’m in terrible shape). Check in on a boat, and you’ll get the famous “I’m on a boat” badge, named after the famous Saturday Night Live song.

Third, check in to a venue more than anyone else and you’ll get crowned “Mayor,” which, like badges, is more a matter of pride than anything else. Still, some stores offer Specials just for the mayor.

Fourth, if you check into enough places, foursquare can gather your tastes and suggest similar venues using the “Explore” feature. Looking for a new bar to take your buddies to? Hit explore and the app will suggest locations near you that are similar to bars you’ve previously checked into. It’s a great way to find new places.

foursquare recently hit a milestone with its 10 millionth user, and I think it’s going to continue growing rapidly. I hope to see more people using it in the future (as long as they don’t steal my mayorships).