The New Foursquare: A Recap of the Latest Foursquare Updates

November 12, 2012

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shutterstock_212930632Foursquare is no longer just a mobile check-in service. It has also fast become a location-based discovery and exploration platform.

Many individual users and local businesses may have noticed the burst fire of updates that Foursquare has rolled out recently. The latest of these is an update giving users the ability to mention friends on Facebook who don’t use Foursquare. While the service currently enjoys over 2.5 billion check-ins – and millions more each day – the company obviously isn’t content to be everyone’s preferred check-in service. It wants to be much more than that.

For a recap of how Foursquare is aggressively and rapidly evolving its personalized, location-based recommendations and review platform – and how it’s charging into a head-on battle with online reviews aggregator Yelp – check out the list below:

Check in and mention your Facebook friends


The most recent Foursquare update involves users’ new ability to mention friends on Facebook on check-ins – even if those friends don’t use Foursquare. As explained in a company blog post, all users have to do is tap the “Add Friend” icon when they’re checking in and choose the friend(s) they’re checking in with. This automatically sends notifications to the Facebook friends, who can also be tagged in a Facebook post should the Foursquare user choose to share the check-in there.

(Promoted) Local Updates launched


One of the first – and also one of the most important – updates that Foursquare rolled out this year, Local Updates serve as a way for local businesses to send photos, texts, exclusive offers, and other promotional information to Foursquare users. The updates are based on check-in location and are therefore geographically targeted, and they appear on Foursquare’s signature discovery tool: the Explore tab. The Local Updates feature also happens to be one of Foursquare’s first revenue products – akin to that of Twitter’s Promoted Tweets and Google’s AdWords platform.

New and improved personalized map and search engine


Shortly after Apple decided to partner with Yelp in launching Apple Maps, Foursquare decided to improve and enhance the functionality of the Explore tab. It added better personalized search categories such as Top Picks, Specials (for discounts, promos, and freebies that Foursquare users can find nearby), Saved places, places that users Haven’t Been to, Been to Before, and places where Friends Have Been.

In-app OpenTable reservations on Foursquare


The partnership that made the most sense took (almost) forever to happen. At least it did happen. Joining forces with online reservations and restaurant reviews site OpenTable, Foursquare announced in October that it was enabling users to make in-app reservations at OpenTable partner restaurants. This was done by adding a “Make Reservation” button on an OpenTable restaurant’s Foursquare listing, which users can then click and complete. No phone calls necessary. All one has to do is indicate the time they plan on checking in and how many people will be coming.

A new 10-point (not 5-star) rating system


Just last week, Foursquare introduced a new 10-point rating system designed to further help users discover local businesses they might like. The rating – which veers away from the traditional 5-star ratings that one sees on Yelp or the 30-point Zagat scores one sees on Google – shows up next to the name of businesses that users discover through Explore. According to Foursquare, the rating factors in signals like tips, likes, dislikes, popularity, loyalty, local expertise, and close to 3 billion check-ins from over 25 million people worldwide; the end number thus ends up getting smarter and better as more people use Foursquare.

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