Foursquare, the company that made us "check in" at our local Starbucks, just got a whole new look. With this upgrade Foursquare is moving us from broadcasting our location to recommending them for us.
The iOS and Android apps were rebuilt from the top down (that's coding lingo) to give users more of what they want and need. It wouldn't be an overhaul without some new features thrown in too. Here's what's new.
The biggest change in Foursquare 5.0 takes the spotlight off of the "check-in." Remember this is the feature that defined Foursquare, check-in to get the Mayor badge at Whole Foods. Yes I had that badge once until some guy named John T. stole it. The company found that many users never used the "check in" feature at all. Instead they were using the app to search for recommendations at the restaurant they were dining in. Formerly "check-in" was the main feature; now with the overhaul it's been relegated to the sidelines.
With "check-in" now marginalized Foursquare added "Explore" and "Lists." In "Explore" I type in someplace I'd like to go. Say I want pizza for lunch I'll now see a map of pizza places, tap on The Pizza Shack and I'll see that two of my friends have eaten there. I can see from their reviews that they loved it, and one friend really loved the crust. I know where I'm going for lunch!
With "Lists" I get great recommendations nearby. I'm thrilled about this feature. Think of it as a personalized concierge service on your phone. If you have three hours to kill in a new city why not jump into the list "Must-visit art museums nearby"? From there I can see user generated feedback and tips. And remember you might get a discount coupon from a museum just for "checking in."
You'll also get a new "friends" tab featuring "tips, lists, and places your friends have saved," the company said. Foursquare also claims to have made the app faster which I've definitely noticed in my tests.
Users of Instagram, Path and Facebook will notice that Foursquare 'borrowed' some of their popular features. Photos are now front and center (like Instagram), 'Liking' has been swiped from Facebook but instead of using a "thumbs-up" Foursquare opted for Path's red hearts.