In a blog post today, Foursquare said that they have readjusted their algorithms taking into account:
We consider things like the popularity of each venue, its distance from you (of course), and some neat effects like category and the current time — for example, at 8am you’re more likely to check into a coffee shop, but at 8pm bars and restaurants are more popular.
If it does improve the user experience even incrementally, this could be a very significant move for Foursquare as the speed and accuracy of check-ins is one drivers of people actually checking in. Of course, this also comes among increasing buzz about Facebook’s own “Places” location feature that will almost certainly be rolled out sometime within the next month.
There are a couple of other interesting things we should mention here. First, as the idea of a unified database of places continues to be something the CEOs of location services talk about, we wonder if perhaps in the future it won’t be what places you have in your database that counts, but how accurate you are at suggesting and showing venues to users that they are interested in (and/or are actually trying to check into).
To differentiate going forward, social location services are going to have to really perform some “magic” as Check.in says they do, in order to get users to pick their check-in service over others (there are of course other factors such as partnerships, deals, game mechanics, etc, but speed of checking in is very key to long term use).
We’ll certainly be testing out Foursquare’s new tweaks to see how magical they are.