Foursquare's homepage has just undergone a major redesign, with the company's local search and recommendation engine now available to anyone who visits — regardless of whether they're a user of the company's well-known location check-in app. Now, visitors are met with a view that looks quite reminiscent of Google Maps; a search input box prompts you to "find great places near you." The search engine draws local results based on the nearly three billion check-ins and millions of tips that Foursquare users have made over the years, primarily with its mobile app, but now they're available for those who were previously uninterested in using Foursquare's app to check in at every bar, restaurant, gas station, or subway stop they happened to frequent. Even for those not logged in, Foursquare's search results show off tips from users; clicking through to a location shows all the tips and photos left.
While Foursquare has kept that core check-in functionality as a major part of its app, updates over the past few years have been moving the company in this direction of taking on services like Yelp and Google. Previously, recommendations were based on that check-in data and that of your friends, but, as GigaOm reports, Foursquare has gathered enough data over the years that it can provide useful recommendations to anyone, even if they aren't a registered user who checks in frequently. This change comes about four months after a major redesign of the Foursquare mobile app, which also pushed recommendations to the forefront of the experience. While it'll be tough for Foursquare to take on the major entrenched players in the local recommendation space, it clearly believes that the check-in and tips data it has gathered over the last three years will give it an edge with consumers.