Last night Foursquare launched the latest version of their iPhone app, Foursquare v3. This marks the third year in a row they're launching at SXSWi, the perfect stage for the Foursquare team to show off what they've been up to and why it's going to change everything. This year's refresh is an awesome overhaul, and really proves how hard the Foursquare team is working to make the platform into something immersive and valuable. Here are the top reasons why I'm so excited about the latest version of Foursquare application:
- Powerful new personalized recommendations
Foursquare launched a new tab in the mobile app "Explore" that houses all kinds of recommendations for you. You can view trending places, pick a category or search for a topic in particular. What makes this more intriguing than just about any other recommendation engine I've seen though is that every recommendation comes with "reasons why" Foursquare is suggesting this place. It could be because your close friends keep going there, because there are a lot of new tips there, because you go to a whole bunch of places like it, or more. I immediately trust recommendations that are transparent, even when the reason given is "this place is totally different than you're usual" (which you might just see).
- More compelling loyalty and rewards opportunities
Two big challenges with earlier versions of Foursquare were that deals were hard to find, and they usually only applied to the mayor. Both of these have been fixed, and then some. Now when you pull up nearby places you see an alert at the bottom of how many specials are close, and have the option to browse only those specials. There are also 6 new types of specials that businesses can offer, such as deals for friends that check-in together, regular customers, 'swarm deals' and more. This makes Foursquare even more capable as the backbone of business loyalty programs, and makes deals a lot more value to customers.
- More interesting data and gaming metrics
Foursquare says the gaming mechanism is entirely rebuilt, with dozens of ways to earn points in ways that will encourage you to try and do more, such as points for returning to places you used to frequent, trying a new type of food or catching up with an old friend. You also see updates to your game ranking ranking every time you take an action, and the game is now always based on the "latest 7 days." I'm also really excited to see personal data being brought into the application. On your profile tab is now a section that shows your most explored categories, which you and your friends can visit to see what you are most likely an expert on.
These new features in Foursquare, along with their earlier additions of photos and commenting on check-ins, complete Foursquare's transition from novelty game to powerful platform. A lot of people have dropped off from using Foursquare after they tried it because they didn't see the value; this is Foursquare saying they heard you. Give it another try, spend some time exploring the features, see more of what makes mobile / geo social networking so interesting, and let me know what you think.