Sea of Troubles

Creating Foursquare NFC/QR Code Tags

I really quite like Foursquare. I’m the mayor at a couple of places, and I enjoy discovering new places using their recommendations engine, particularly when travelling.

I find though, that I often go entire days between checking in. Mostly, I forget to take my phone out and check in; occasionally, I remember only on my way out the door and don’t have time before I leave the geofence.

So, how to prompt my memory and speed up the check-in process?

Now that my Galaxy Nexus is running 4.0.4, it can (finally!) write NFC tags. So, to work!

I had previously purchased TagAge’s Starter Kit of blank NFC tags. Meanwhile, Tagstand’s NFC Writer app allows trivial encoding of Foursquare venue URLs. So, using the 164 byte tags (the data doesn’t fit in 64 byte tags) I made one for my favourite coffee shop and another for the office. Happily, they work as advertised.

That said, I don’t always have my android on me, often carrying just an iPhone. I’d love the same physical token to work for that device too.

Foursquare, fortunately, provides a custom URL scheme to jump right to the venue in the native app. You’ll need to get the venue’s ID, which you can get from searching for the venue on the website; the ID is the last part of the venue’s URL. For example, Pablo and Rusty’s venue ID is 4b0c58ebf964a520933b23e3.

The ZXing project provides a web application that generates QR codes. I created a QR code for each tag’s venue, using the URL type, with the content:


A handy Dymo LabelWriter 450 cheerfully printed the QR code onto a sticker small enough to attach to the tag.

And lo: a small sticker that provides both NFC and QC code quick access to the Foursquare native app’s page for a given venue.