Foursquare's Completely Redesigned App Knows What You Want Before You Do

Foursquare has ditched its most popular feature, the check-in button, in favor of personalized recommendations for local food and drink.

After rebranding itself and promising a redesigned experience, Foursquare has delivered with the release of the overhauled Foursquare app. And with it comes a complete re-envisioning of the company's mission: gone are check-ins, and in their place are personalized food suggestions.

Foursquare’s main feature used to be the “check-in” button—a way of broadcasting your whereabouts to fellow users and trying to become “mayor” of any number of restaurants. The new Foursquare, on the other hand, is designed mainly as a recommender app—one that knows your personal tastes intimately—and tailors its suggestions for local food and drink accordingly. It’s this personalization that Foursquare hopes will let it compete with apps like the far more popular Yelp, which has 138 million monthly users, and Google Maps.

The app was designed in-house with branding help from design shop Red Antler, and features a new watermelon pink and blue color scheme. Photos of suggested restaurants, which were lacking in the previous text-heavy app, are presented in an easy-to-navigate user interface, which eliminates the previous hamburger-style menu on the app's lefthand side.

Like a good assistant, the new Foursquare aims to predict what you want before you even know. To do this, it gathers data based on where you’ve been before or checked in, how you’ve rated various places, and what people you follow have enjoyed.

It also lets you add your “tastes,” from a list of 10,000 possible selections, by tapping a pink F in the top of the screen. These range from “fish tacos” to “outdoor seating” to “Malbec wine” to “bright places,” and have all been culled from 5 billion check-ins and 55 million user-submitted tips since its launch five years ago. And when you search for a specific term, this, too, can be added to your tastes.

By factoring in your preferences, it’ll hunt down a place that’s in your price range and offers your favorite menu items—a Bloody Mary or vegan tofu scramble, for example—instead of just recommending a list of all the brunch spots in a given area.

Another new feature is the Pilgrim tracking engine. By monitoring your location even when the app isn’t open, Pilgrim helps to hone the app's recommending skills, and can spontaneously suggest nearby spots as you're roaming a given neighborhood. But if you're wary of this tracking as a potential invasion of privacy, you can choose to turn off the Pilgrim feature. CEO Dennis Crowley claims Yelp, which mostly offers the same search results to all users, can't compete with the personalized offerings of Foursquare's revamped app.

But there are still shades of the old, gamified Foursquare lurking in the shadows. You can gain "expertise" by submitting popular tips (essentially, short reviews). If you're a taco aficionado, for example, Foursquare will award you a Taco Expertise, displaying your tips at the top of a venue's page. And for those who miss Foursquare’s old check-in feature, it's been shipped off to an entirely new app, called Swarm, which launched in early May. Visually and functionally, the reimagined Foursquare is sleeker, more sophisticated, and appeals to a broader audience than its previous iteration, leaving it poised to compete with less personalized recommender apps like Yelp.

[H/T the Verge]

[Image: Flickr user Kristen Taylor]

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