A smarter Foursquare, so you don’t miss a thing.
The idea behind Foursquare has always been that, someday, hundreds of millions of people will carry software in their pocket that lets them know when friends are nearby, when places they’ll love are around the corner, and whether nearby merchants can help them save money. This is the future we’re spending our days building.
When we look at how to build this, we break it down into two main interactions: one between you and your friends, and another between Foursquare and you. For you and your friends, it’s about keeping up and meeting up. And between you and Foursquare, it’s about what’s great nearby.
Part of that Foursquare interaction is straightforward – when you’re looking for something like ‘gluten-free dinner,’ search for it and we’ll show you the best places nearby. The other part is more serendipitous – the times when Foursquare surprises you with interesting insights, like the best dish to order when you sit down for dinner, or the three must-see places to go when you arrive in a new part of town. These aren’t ‘search’ moments, but they’re a big part of what makes Foursquare special.
For the last few years, we’ve been working on this ‘special’ part, which we’re launching today to a few thousand people who use Foursquare on their Android phones. The idea is simple – use your phone’s location to give you nearby recommendations. We think of this feature like a sixth sense; proactive recommendations of things you didn’t even know you were looking for. In the past, it’s been a challenge, mostly because of issues with battery drain and location accuracy.
With our launch today, we’ve moved past those challenges. With over 4 billion check-ins, our location accuracy has hugely improved. With more than 32 million tips, you’ve told us about great things worth discovering all around the world. When we tried this two years ago (remember, Radar?) it was about reminding you to check in and letting you know when you were close to places you saved to lists. Today, with everything that Foursquare has learned about the world, it can be proactive recommendations – helping you discover the greatest things nearby without even having to open the app. You still check in when you want to share with friends, and now we may give you great recommendations even if you don’t. And while using background location in the past was a battery drain, we’ve done a ton of tinkering there. Now, you’ll barely notice the impact. From our internal tests on a bunch of phones, it only increases drain about 0.7% per hour, or, over the course of a day, the equivalent of about a 20-minute game of Angry Birds.
Today we’re excited to start rolling out this smarter Foursquare. Here’s how it will work: when you sit down to dinner, we might ping you with the can’t-miss dish on the menu (like the screenshot from a sushi bar below). Or when you arrive in a new neighborhood or city, we’ll suggest a few places that your friends love (like below, after you’ve wandered into a new neighborhood). It’s like having a ton of local friends stuffed in your pocket wherever you go.
Because it’s powered by billions of check-ins, it’s also smart: we’re going to ping you when you sit down at a new place where your friend left a tip, not when you’re on your daily walk to work. And using this feature doesn’t check you in; this isn’t for sharing, just for making sure you don’t miss great things.
Starting today, we’re rolling it out to thousands of Android users. Over the course of the coming months, we’re going to be expanding to all Android users, and then iOS (we’re taking it a bit slow to make sure we get it just right, but hope to have it to everyone in the next few months). We’re so excited to finally have this out in the wild, and for you guys to see what we’ve been working on the last year-and-a-half and for everyone to see what we think the future of Foursquare looks like.
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