Tech Report: Foursquare 3.0 Has Arrived

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Foursquare logo (AP)

Brian Cooley’s Tech Watch
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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS / AP) – Foursquare, the location-based check-in startup, is introducing its latest version for the Android and iPhone.

A new version of its application will include a new button, “explore,” which replaces the current “tips” section.

Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley said the idea is to find things near you, including the unexpected. So Foursquare might recommend a new burrito joint based on your check-in history, or on what your friends like. A new search function, meanwhile, lets you type in keywords such as “margaritas outside” or “date night” and get suggestions for where to go.

KCBS Technology Analyst Larry Magid:

KCBS Technology Analyst Larry Magid said Foursquare 3.0 will give users a sense of how they might want to spend their time.

He said the new recommendation engine separates Foursquare from Facebook Places and other competitors.

The update will also let businesses offer new types of incentives, or “specials.”
Businesses can already offer deals or discounts to loyal customers or new visitors. For example, a bar can offer its “mayor” – that is, the person who has checked in the most times – happy-hour prices at all times, a free appetizer or a drink special.

The update brings three new types of specials, bringing the total to seven. “Swarm specials” will let places offer special deals if a ton of people – say, 50 or 500 – check in all at once. “Flash specials” are quick-hit deals – such a free drink to the first 10 people to show up at a restaurant at a certain time. “Friends specials” are just that, deals you get when you bring a few extra guests to a venue.

Foursquare has also revamped its leaderboard, which lets users compete with one another by scoring points for check-ins. The current app has one, but it wasn’t easily found and many people simply forgot about it.

The new leaderboard is displayed prominently on your Foursquare profile. Besides competing with friends, it lets you compete against your own high score. The goal is to reward you for checking in, even if you have little chance of becoming the “mayor” of your corner coffee shop. So now you’ll get points for all kinds of activities, such as trying out new types of restaurants or visiting a place with a group of friends.

Two-year-old Foursquare has nearly 7.5 million users worldwide and adds about 35,000 new people each day. This has made it more difficult for users, especially those in densely populated areas, to reach the coveted “mayor” title.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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