Foursquare launched back in 2009 at Austin’s SXSW festival with the idea of “making cities easier to use” and the mobile company will stick with their yearly cadence by releasing Version 3.0 later tonight. The social check-in service now boasts nearly 7.5 million users and witnessed almost 500,000,000 check-ins during the last year.
As Foursquare has continued to grow, they have continued to add new features that take advantage of all their growing database of location and social info. In a new blog post, company founder Dennis Crowley details Foursquare’s journey and their future.
Dennis explained the importance of every check-in and how context matters by saying, “We knew that while check-ins were interesting in the present tense (“Hey, Alex is at Ace Bar!”) they were most interesting when viewed in aggregate, as a history of the places you’ve been and people you’ve overlapped with. The world becomes so much more fun, social, and interesting when you have that context.”
The major addition to Foursquare 3.0 is the new Explore tab which is powered by their recommendation engine for the real world. This feature takes all the check-ins and tips from the larger Foursquare community into turns it into personalized recommendations based on your location.
When visiting the Explore tab, users can quickly explore suggestions for several pre-defined categories like food, coffee, nightlife, and shops or they can search for anything. The suggestions are based on all kinds of signals including “the places you’ve been, the places your friends have visited, your loyalty to your favorite places, the categories and types of places you gravitate towards, what’s popular with other users, the day of the week, places with great tips, the time of day, and so on.”
The new update also tries to encourage activity by tweaking the leaderboards with a new sliding 7-day barometer of your activity. Check-ins now trigger points for dozens of actions including “discovering new places, trying new types of restaurants, visiting new cities, getting groups together, hanging out with old friends, and a few things you might not expect.”
Finally, Foursquare has implemented new loyalty rewards with their Specials program. Businesses can offer six types of rewards to swarms, groups of friends, regulars, newbies, Mayors, or simply to everyone. The Places tab now includes a link to display specials nearby, so it’s easier than ever to find businesses that reward Foursquare users.
Overall it looks like another solid release for Foursquare. I’m glad to see they are releasing the new Android and iPhone versions on the same day and I’m excited to see how it performs this weekend in Austin at SXSW. I like the focus on discovery, encouragement, and loyalty and it will be interesting to see how local businesses embrace the new Specials program.
Foursquare 3.0 will land on the Android Market sometime later tonight, so keep an eye on the official Market listing for it to go live.