After teasing and hinting at a big redesign, Foursquare finally released its new version live today. And we were pleasantly taken aback. It’s a huge improvement. For years, the company has said it was planning on moving beyond the check-in and it looks like that goal has finally come to fruition–with a bolder emphasis on recommendations, discovering new places, and features that encourage interacting with friends and planning what to do in real-time.
Foursquare has cleaned up the clutter in favor of just three tabs: Explore, Friends, and your profile. “We took apart the app and completely rebuilt it,” the company said in a press release.
The startup has clearly taken its cues from Facebook Timeline, Instagram, and Path to downplay antiquated badges and mayorships in favor of offering suggestions–like where to get breakfast in the West Village on a Thursday morning–as well as a “likes” and comments option. Recommendations weigh in not just time of day and where you are, but also weather and your friends’ activities.
A quick scroll through the “Friends” feed and we’ve already noticed more people using it to chat while they’re out and meet-up. Like Timeline, “Friends” offers a chronological list of large photos (in this case swipable ones) along with likes and tips. Because the comments are right there, it encourages users to leave their own.
The “Explore” tab does a much better of incorporating the “Lists” feature Foursquare launched awhile back. At the top of that section is a Google map with pins showing deals, places your friends have been to, and, yes, locations on lists you follow. The map should also show your friends’ faces in terms of where they’re checked-in–although it looks like most of Betabeat’s friends are still in bed.
Clicking on a venue also now pulls up reviews, menus, and the ability to call–along with the tips option, which, for Betabeat’s money, has been the best reason to use Foursquare. Of course, that was before the redesign.
The new version launches in the Android and iOS app stores today and BlackBerry in a couple weeks. Play around and let us know what you think.