Foursquare CEO plans to take on Yelp with new social recommendations

Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley

Dennis Crowley wants you to know that Foursquare is about more than just check-ins. In a keynote at Mobile World Congress today, the co-founder and CEO hinted that he hopes to make the world’s most popular location-based social network into the world’s most powerful recommendation engine for places.

While Foursquare was founded on check-ins and badges, or awards that incentivize checking in, it will soon begin helping you find things before you even ask for them. By analyzing and “recycling data,” or feeding check-in information back to users in new ways, it hopes to help you by learning your habits and predicting future wants and needs. For example, if Foursquare knows that you check in to coffee places in New York every morning, then it may suggest some coffee places for you to visit when you visit, say, Barcelona one week.

The same goes for restaurants and other types of places. If Foursquare knows that you love burger joints, perhaps it will suggest a great burger place if you’re nearby and it’s around dinner (or whenever you normally eat).

Of course, having a Foursquare app constantly bug you with suggestions could get old quickly. Crowley compared his concept to that little paperclip mascot in older versions of Microsoft Word (Clippy) that would give you hints, but asked what it would be like if Clippy actually gave you helpful hints at relevant times instead of just popping up on screen to bother you?

Telling you where you want to go

Foursquare isn’t just recycling data, though. It also hopes to help you actively find and remember interesting places. The company has released a new “Save to Foursquare” button that works much like a Facebook Like button, but instead of only posting a link to something on your Wall, it saves the physical location of a restaurant or place that you found interesting when browsing online. We all go online to look up restaurants now and then, but what if you could save the ones that looked interesting directly to Foursquare and then Foursquare helped you find them again when they might be relevant, perhaps if you’re walkingr travelling near them, or searching for a place to eat. It’s a powerful concept, but it also puts Foursquare in competition with services like Yelp. 


In addition to predicting user data, Crowley also pointed out ways that it’s letting users search through their own recycled data and data generated by their friends. On the Foursquare site, you can search for places that your friends like to visit, places where your friends are, places that Foursquare knows you like (or that you visit often), or places that you’ve never been.

Recycling data for merchants

Merchants are also getting onboard with Foursquare. Many merchants now offer deals to those who check in at their establishments. Thanks to Foursquare’s focus on recycling data, the 750,000 merchants who use the service are getting benefit from it as well. Crowley noted that Foursquare provides business owners with demographic and competitive info. They can know things like how many men and women visit their place, how old they are, what times of the day or days of the week they visit, and how this compares to nearby establishments.

Foursquare everywhere

So where will Foursquare take its 15 million users next? If you’re to believe its CEO, Foursquare will soon be everywhere. Before closing out his keynote at MWC, Crowley showed some upcoming technologies and how Foursquare might interact with them. Commenting on the possibility of Google augmented reality glasses, he said that Foursquare could definitely be on a platform like this, but pointed toward a technology that already exists, connected ski goggles with a screen inside them, and asked why goggles like those couldn’t integrate Foursquare. For example, if you’re skiing or snowboarding down a mountain, wouldn’t it be helpful if you could see what routes are most popular or preferred by your friends?

Siri was another example brought up. Crowley pointed out that you can ask Siri questions like “Find me a Sushi place,” but these questions are so limited. With Foursquare, he hopes that Siri-like applications could get much more specific and know exactly what kinds of restaurants you like to eat at.

the-marauders-mapA real-world Marauder’s Map

In his closing, Crowley got truly geeky, comparing Foursquare to the Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter. In the book series, this map would magically show Potter where his friends and family were at any time. But how cool would it have been if the Marauder’s Map saved its data and could tell Harry where his friends are likely to go? That’s what Foursquare hopes to accomplish. 

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.

These are the best indie games you can get on PC right now

Though many indie games now come to consoles as well, there's still a much larger selection on PC. With that in mind, we've created a list of the best indie games for PC, with an emphasis on games that are only available on PC.

If you're looking for a good laugh, here are 70 questions to ask Siri

Siri has come a long way since her first appearance on the iPhone 4S in 2011. We know she can make appointments and give directions, did you know she can make you laugh too? If you want proof, here are lots of funny questions to ask Siri.

The best Apple Watch bands and straps to stylize your timepiece

If you have an Apple Watch, you know how easy it is to take off the strap it came with, so why not buy yourself another one? Here, we've gathered the best Apple Watch bands we've seen so far. There's something for everyone.

How to choose an iPad in 2019: A practical guide to Apple’s tablets

Selecting an iPad from Apple's lineup can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Our comprehensive guide should put the numbers and specs in practical, easy-to-understand terms. Find your ideal iPad with the help of our guide.

The Cat S48c is the phone designed for construction workers (or the clumsy)

The Cat S48c is a rugged smartphone that's available from Sprint. It mixes midrange specs with a huge battery wrapped in an extremely tough and protective body. If you need a phone that can survive the construction site, then this is it.

Apple resurrects the iPhone SE with brand-new units starting at $249

Apple quietly started selling the iPhone SE again, at even lower prices than when it was discontinued four months ago. Brand new units of the 32GB version are on sale for $249, while the 128GB version is going for $299.

Popular Android navigation apps are just Google Maps with ads, researcher says

A malware researcher found that 19 free Android navigation apps on the Google Play Store were nothing more than Google Maps, but with ads. One of the apps asked for a payment to remove the ads, while some of them presented security risks.

Google Maps will now help drivers stay within speed limits, avoid speed traps

Google Maps will now start showing speed limits and speed camera locations, so that drivers will not be flagged for speeding tickets. The new features arrive to the app years after they were introduced in Waze.

Text up a storm with the best messaging apps for iOS and Android

These days, most people tend to favor digital messages over phone calls. We have the best messaging apps that allow you to share photos and documents, send text messages, and more with end-to-end encryption.

If you want Samsung's advanced folding phone, be prepared to pay a lot for it

Samsung has been showcasing bendable display tech for a few years and now a folding smartphone might finally arrive. The Galaxy X, or perhaps the Galaxy Fold, may be the company's first example. Here's everything we know about it.

Do these case images confirm a side-mounted fingerprint scanner on the S10 E?

It won't be long now; With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.

T-Mobile 5G rollout: Here is everything you need to know

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.