5 hot apps: Swarm-ing to local hot spots; Outsourcing your line waiting; more


Foursquare, which recently announced plans to separate the features of its eponymous flagship program into an app duo, released the first deviation from its usual formula Thursday. Swarm, true to its name, assists in choosing neighborhood destinations for meet-ups. Friends close by and their activities are displayed in list form, much like the original Foursquare app, but users also have the ability to push suggestions to their friend list--like meeting for drinks at the bar or ice cream in the park--and immediately gauge responses. The company has yet to release the new version of its original app, but reports say it will concentrate more on the discovery side of local tech.

Looking to keep tabs on your elected official without traveling to DC for every big vote? Enter Countable, a way to have your voice heard in the mobile and digital era. While flicking through proposed legislation for the Senate and House, users are offered a short argument for and against each bill. After choosing "yea," "nay" or "skip," the app helps you draft an email to your representative. It's basically political Tinder--with an approval rating barely breaking double digits, maybe Congress could use the immediate feedback. The app is currently browser based, and an iOS release is planned by the end of May.

Standing in line: The great economic equalizer. No matter how badly you want to buy something, most brick-and-mortar businesses operate on a first-come, first-served basis. However, creators of the new app Shout saw that empty niche (or spot in line) and decided to monetize it. The app is a local marketplace that lets users buy or sell restaurant reservations, spots for new tech or nearly anything else requiring that dreaded standing by. It is currently in private beta and only operating in New York--where it has seen a certain measure of adoption--and the developers plan for a wide release this month. One of the most expensive shout transactions Tuesday was a spot for the highly popular cronut (croissant + donut) at the Dominique Ansel Bakery for $70.

Adidas announced through a post Friday that it is bringing customization on its ZX Flux shoes to a new level. The sneaker manufacturer is allowing customers to import Instagram photos to a companion Mi Adidas app--to be released in August--and print your shoes with that image. Selfies, food pics and #TBT's are all fair game, and the company is planning on letting the consumer "make a statement on [their] sneakers like never before."

Finding Rover has been around for about a year, but its newest version has tails wagging. The doggy facial recognition technology lets users share pictures of their pet to a database online and use that information if the dog goes missing. In the past, all data was user generated, but now the app has teamed up with San Diego's Department of Animal Services to create a directory of misplaced pups in the area. The department's shelters will upload pictures of found dogs, greatly increasing chances that their rightful owners locate them. The developers hope to expand the app's reach to shelters beyond San Diego soon.