As Mobile Gains Steam, Don’t Forget Foursquare

What's Next In Payments®
4:29 PM EDT August 15th, 2012

The first iPad made its debut on April 3, 2010 — which makes Foursquare roughly a year older than Apple’s tablet computing device. Both pieces of technology have been continuously rejuvenated with updates over the years, and with the release of Foursquare 5.0, both are now relevant to the mobile commerce conversation.

And don’t think for a second that this is a fading technology in the mobile platform discussion — just look at these usage statistics compiled by Business Insider.

Foursquare Users

Foursquare 5.0 goes beyond the simple “check-in” with a few key new features. Chief among them for the commerce conversation are updates to the app’s Explore tab, the platform’s user profile pages, and venue pages, where users can learn more about their favorite local merchants.

When I open the app, Foursquare encourages me to “check out” several nearby coffee shops, making use of the fact that I’ve checked in at several such merchants in my neighborhood. Then, when I move over to the newly designed Explore tab, the app lets me tell it what I’m looking for — either coffee, or shopping, or nightlife locales, even offering a special search function for specials. (Mobile couponing, anyone?)

In fact, it’s the “specials” tab where you can see the product of Foursquare’s partnership with American Express: at a number of locations (but not all), Amex is offering a one-time $5 rebate on purchases of $10 or more.

As I scroll down the Explore tab, I’m prompted with not only venue names and locations, but also reviews written by Foursquare power users, and a list showing me if any of my Foursquare friends have visited that spot before.

Profile pages have been redesigned to visually highlight some of the features exclusive to Foursquare — namely, venue tips, achievement badges, and stats.

And users are now able to give additional kudos to their favorite venues, using a simple “heart/broken heart” system as an alternative to, say, an thumb-up/thumb-down option. As Head of Product Alex Rainert explained to About Foursquare’s Chris Thompson, “We’ve done a lot with check-in data, but we also know we can do more to reflect the nuances of how people feel about places, so having a simple heart/broken heart allows us to get more interesting signals about peoples’ favorite places.”

The deal offer partnership with Amex is the most tangible instance of Foursquare’s dabbling in mobile commerce thus far. But increased interactivity and upgraded recommendation features are proof that the team at Foursquare doesn’t just want to help you check in at local venues, it wants to help you find those places that you may soon name among your local favorites.

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