Foursquare has just delivered on the promise of what it’s been doing with Explore for years now. It is making its Explore feature available directly on Foursquare.com, even to those who do not use the service.
Foursquare says that Explore is used over a million times every day. And its now making that feature available even for those who don’t check in or have ever even signed up for Foursquare. This, it says, is part of its efforts to ‘reinvent local search’.
“When we first launched Foursquare Explore, we knew we could make great, personalized recommendations for the 25,000,000 members of our community,” said the company in a blog post. “If a person had checked in at ten places, we could recommend ten more that we knew they’d be happy with.”
Founder Dennis Crowley has always been hot on the idea that Explore has significant advantages to those that don’t even check in or use the apps, and this latest move is in line with that position. Just last week at a Pando Monthly event, he said that Foursquare was “the best local search tool in the planet” and that they were just starting to use the service’s data efficiently. Moving Explore to its website opens up that data to everyone, leveraging the power of Foursqare checkins regardless of whether or not you use the service.
Crowley has said that a key moment in the app’s history was when it figured out that Foursqare was being used to “look for where their friends are, to find things, and as a recommendation service,” adding, “It’s almost like it doesn’t occur to them to check in.”
Foursquare says that it has been improving the formula for its recommendations given through Explore, analyzing its 3 billion check-ins and 30 million tips to do so. That’s when they started experimenting with trying to provide recommendations to people without having a profile of their check-ins to reference, which is where the new Explore feature came from.
Despite not having check-ins to draw on, the signup-free Explore feature will pull on a bunch of bits of data to give recommendations, including popular spots, new places, trending locations, expert reviews and day-of-week popularity. This enables them to make recommendations based on where to go right now, rather than a more general ‘at some point’ recommendation which doesn’t take into account time and location.
Foursquare still mentions that adding check-ins to its data will allow it to give you even better recommendations, which you can do by signing up and downloading its app, but the focus here is clearly on recommendations for everyone.
And Foursquare quite clearly has an advantage over other local search options like Yelp in that it’s using the data gathered by registered users of Foursquare to provide hyperlocal and time-sensitive recommendations. That’s something that no one has gotten quite right yet, but that Foursquare, with its geo and time-sensitive checkins, is uniquely positioned to deliver.
Foursquare recently announced a partnership with Opentable for reservations, which makes even more sense now. It also updated its Android app to bring back the ‘nearby friends’ filter and simplified its Explore view with a better map, new search filters and more.
You can check out the new Explore feature on Foursquare’s website here.