Foursquare launches major redesign

Foursquare Thursday launched a major redesign of its app for the iPhone and Android devices, incorporating features from social discovery and local search applications, as well as the Like feature made famous by Facebook.

Foursquare, which launched in 2009 and now has 20 million users, lets people "check in" to shops and other locations to share their whereabouts with social contacts.

Foursquare described the redesign as "a whole new app." The app's Explore function will now allow users to browse locations by category or conduct a specific search such as, "free wi-fi" or "dumplings," a company blog post announcing the launch said.

The company touts the Explore function as a better local search than Google or Yelp. While users of those apps all get roughly the same results, Foursquare users get "a very personalized set of search results," based on prior check-ins, friends' check-ins and a given location's popularity across Foursquare, Holger Luedorf, Foursquare's vice president of business development, said at a conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Reinforcing the point, the blog post noted, "It's not the one-size-fits-all approach to local discovery you're used to."

Thursday's redesign debuted a Top Picks feature, or a set of recommendations that appear without requiring a query, a representative said. The existing feature that allows users to find friends who may be nearby has also been relocated to the Explore tab.

The redesign introduced a Friends tab featuring "tips, lists, and places your friends have saved," the company said. Foursquare also says it has made the app faster.

Other platforms are on the horizon. A BlackBerry version of the app will be coming soon, the company said. Foursquare does not build apps for the Windows Phone "in-house," a representative said in an email, but according to Luedorf, the company is working with Microsoft to create an app for the Windows Phone.

The blog post announcing the changes promised more updates in the weeks ahead.

[Cameron Scott covers search, web services and privacy for The IDG News Service. Follow Cameron on Twitter at CScott_IDG.]

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