Foursquare pioneered the location check-in phenomenon that Facebook and so many others now offer. But the reality is that Foursquare just hasn’t been that popular for quite a while. It put out a flashy new check-in app called Swarm earlier this year, and that failed to catch on.
Now the main Foursquare app has received its most significant overhaul to date. Available today in the App Store, Foursquare 8.0 does away with a lot of the social aspects it had before and instead focuses on finding you just the best places to eat.
“There’s no reason why we should all get the same recommendations when looking for a place to eat, drink or shop,” said the company in an announcement. “Getting a one-size-fits-all list of places may have been innovative in 2006, but it feels downright antiquated now. Our tastes are all different, so why should we all see the same results? The all-new Foursquare, which you can download today, learns what you like, and leads you to places you’ll love.”
Yelp, which Apple bakes into its Maps app, is obviously a “one-size-fits-all list of places” that Foursquare is aiming at with this release. Foursquare’s strength has always been how it leverages your social circle to make it a competition between who can check-in somewhere the most. In the new app, you can become an expert in something like sushi, which lends weight to your recommendation.
When you first open the new Foursquare, you’re prompted to add a bunch of tags for things like “coffee,” “falafel,” or “omelettes,” and the app starts aggregating places for you to check out based on what you select.
I found the new design of the app to be underwhelming, but its recommendations seemed good. You can leave a “tip” about a place you visit, which is essentially a mini review that you would post to Yelp or elsewhere.
Users will have to be ok with the app tracking their location at all times, which is a little eerie to see at first. But then a notification appears on your screen recommending a nearby place to eat at that you may be craving, and suddenly always-on tracking makes more sense.
Foursquare has differentiated itself from the competition, but it remains to be seen if it’s different enough to thrive in the App Store. Its success will also be up to if people want to actually use it the way it’s intended: share everywhere you go, and then let Foursquare help you find where to go next.
You can check out the all-new Foursquare in the App Store now. It’s a free download.