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Foursquare mobile app adorns new look
Foursquare mobile app adorns new look
By: Sneha Bokil-Paranjape

Location sharing app Foursquare, which helps users share with their friends all the cool places from restaurants to movie theatre has debuted a new top-to-bottom redesign of its mobile applications. By now, "checking in" at coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and sporting events is a common practice across many apps, but it was Foursquare that really made this social activity popular.

What started as a check-in to show your friends, Foursquare has turned into a game that encouraged users to discover their world; it has now evolved a tool that helps users connect to others in a sophisticated way.

With the latest version of Foursquare, the interface has been completely reworked to a much cleaner design so you can get to what you want quickly using only three tabs across the bottom of the screen. The Friends tab highlights not just check-ins from friends but other activities, such as adding a place to a list or interactions with other users and brands.

The new look is aimed at letting people interact with friends on Foursquare. Each profile page features the user’s photo, location, short bio, and various contact information and social media profiles front-and-centre. The home page’s new layout also makes it more inviting to click around to look at the latest activity by your friends.

With 2 billion check-ins — including about 5 million added each day — Foursquare is galloping ahead in the social media rage. The location aspect of the app has got a new shine, with a snappier map interface that lets you see where your friends are in real-time. The new iPhone and Android apps will be live shortly in their respective app stores. A new BlackBerry update will be available in the next few weeks.

Foursquare has simplified the check-in process by moving the check-in button to the top right and speeding up the process on the back-end.

One of the massive and important update to the app is that for the first time, users can like or dislike a place, awarding it a ‘heart’ or a ‘broken heart’ (like or dislike) icon. That gives Foursquare its own simple ratings system that can also help feed into recommendations. The Explore tab pops up with a new map and a personalized list of interesting places around you based on your friends’ and your check-in data. Not only does it show nearby places that you should check out or that have specials, it will also show you where your friends are currently checked in.

You can browse through popular categories or you can type in keywords to get results for the places around your current location. Foursquare Labs says everything from the best pizza in your neighbourhood to the preferred place to get coffee when you're travelling abroad is easily found using the Explore tab.

Foursquare has also expanded the information and interactivity with venues. Now, when you look at page for a venue, you can make comments and put your opinion out there by Liking the venue. This gives users who happen upon your and others' comments more encouragement to try out a new spot.

Foursquare is working on applying its Explore technology to advertisers, who will be able to pay to have their personalized special offers pushed out to relevant users. Foursquare said the sponsored specials will appear later this summer.

With each update, Foursquare is becoming a better tool: not just for consumers but also merchants as well. The new updates are designed for consumers and will likely attract more users to Foursquare. But that in turn makes the platform that is much more useful for merchants.

Foursquare has attracted 20 million users to its service to date, but that certainly pales next to Facebook’s 900 million or even Instagram’s 50 million. It’s not playing in the same spaces as those, but it certainly loves to bring that user count up. So with a new redesign, it is simplifying its interface and pushing for more social interactions between users. Both of those factors could make the service more addictive and not just something people casually use.