Foursquare may be best known for its check-ins, mayorships, and badges, but the company has long been clear that its intention is to use its vast stores of data to make recommendations. Keeping with this goal, Foursquare recently moved its "explore" feature to center stage, and today the company is introducing proactive, passive notifications that make suggestions without requiring you to open the app or even check in at a restaurant. The idea is simple, and it's perhaps the most powerful way Foursquare could possibly leverage the billions of check-ins and millions of tips it has amassed over the years.
The new feature is best explained with a few examples. The company says, for instance, that when you sit down for dinner your phone will now ping you with a top tip suggesting that you can't miss the sweet potato fries. Or if you arrive in a new city the app might bring a few top sights to your notification bar. And since there's so much data behind Foursquare, active users should receive smart notifications: the company says in a blog post that "we’re going to ping you when you sit down at a new place where your friend left a tip, not when you’re on your daily walk to work." And if you still think sharing your location with check-ins is still central to the Foursquare experience, note that the notifications don't check you in. The company says "this isn’t for sharing, just for making sure you don’t miss great things."
"You still check in when you want to share with friends, and now we may give you get great recommendations even if you don’t."
This isn't the first time Foursquare has worked on providing a passive experience to users. In fact, the company made its first big attempt at the feature with "Radar," which was announced for iOS back in the fall of 2011. It was designed to let users know when they were near their checked-in friends, something they'd marked on their to-do list, or an item on a list they were following. CEO Dennis Crowley said at the time that he wanted to make Foursquare "an app you don't have to use," adding that it's "asking a lot of people" to make them pull out their phones and check in everywhere they go. It may be two years later, but it looks like the company may finally have figured it out. And if you're worried about how much battery life the feature will use, the company notes on its blog that it's been able to reduce drain to just 0.7 percent more per hour when enabled. The updated notifications — which remain nameless at this time — are only being rolled out today to a few thousand Android users, according to the blog post, and it should be available for all Android and iOS users over the "coming months."