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Foursquare 6.0 finally brings Explore recommendations to center stage

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When Foursquare launched in 2009, it was all about checking in and seeing where your friends were hanging out. A couple years later, the company had gathered over 3.5 billion check-ins across the world. CEO Dennis Crowley flipped a switch, and all of a sudden, Foursquare was about helping you find the best (or perhaps, most relevant) place to have brunch. The company's recommendations engine, Explore, quickly became the most useful part of its app, eclipsing Yelp as the de facto restaurant ratings app for many. Yet until today, Foursquare's mobile app oddly still focused on a simple feed of friends' whereabouts. It took more than three taps before you could start searching for the best fish taco places.

Today, Foursquare launched version 6.0 of its iPhone app, finally giving Explore the treatment it deserves. When you open the app, you'll first notice that an Explore search box now adorns the app's top navigation bar, replacing the Foursquare logo entirely. A revamped auto-complete engine serves results far faster than before. The friend feed is no longer a list of friends, but is instead a lively combination of recommendations, trending places, and people you know nearby. Less-used features that previously lived inside the "Me" tab now inhabit a drawer that slides out from the app's left side.

Setting visuals aside, the new app trims down the functionality of the main feed (like letting you swap between seeing Nearby and All friends) in favor of elevating trending places and recommendations. Whenever you open the app, it now responds to the date, time, and your location in more tangible ways than before. For example, Foursquare might say "You're at MUJI, here's where people go afterwards," or "Welcome to Paris, here are some places your friends like." If it's dinner time, the app will exclusively recommend places it thinks are good dinner spots.

Foursquare 6.0 is yet another update in the company's almost outrageously speedy app release cycle. In fact, the company already released a few of these features inside its Android app in order to gather data before a wider launch on iPhone. It seems just weeks ago that Foursquare moved the check-in button to the quite visible top right corner of the app, but now, the check-in button is at the bottom of the app. It's tough to trust Foursquare, which is liable to change up its user interface on a weekly basis — but if that means it's easier to find the best Eggs Benedict in the East Village, that might not be such a bad thing.