Call it “Foursquare Now.” Today, the company announced that it would begin rolling out a new push recommendations feature, initially to Android users and later to iOS.
Based on the billions of check-ins, likes and other social data Foursquare has accumulated, the updated app will proactively send alerts about places and venues, without any required action on the part of users:
[W]hen 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.
This is the latest step in the evolution of the company from a social-location game to a local search utility and recommendations engine. Its algorithm has long taken check-ins and social data into account in ranking and rating businesses. But its Explore feature required user engagement; you had to fire up the app and interact with it.
This new functionality allows the user to be entirely passive, although the hope is that it will boost utility and frequency among users. Yelp not long ago introduced recommendations, but they don’t offer similar push capability.
The new feature is not unlike Google Now, as I mentioned, or perhaps even more closely resembles Google’s Field Trip app, which will ping you about interesting things nearby or additional information about where you are. I suspect that Foursquare will introduce ad component to these push messages eventually.
Foursquare has more recently been focused on generating more revenue from its data and traffic. It has recently introduced new ad units and capabilities. And the company has been in discussions with both Apple and Yahoo to license its location data.
Separately, Foursquare told Danny Sullivan it has no immediate plans to launch a Google Glass app, which one might have expected the company to develop.