Foursquare launched an update to their Android app today (it’s rolling out slowly) that makes it clear to everyone where they’re headed as a service: local search and discovery.
No longer is search buried on a secondary tab. A search box now appears at the top of the app that lets users search for particular places or things they’re looking for. They can also choose from Foursquare’s default choices like Best Nearby, Food or Nightlife.
Another big change is the initial view when users open the app. They’ll now find a map at the top of the page showing their nearby friends and places nearby Foursquare thinks they’ll like. Tapping the map expands it to fill the screen. It’s much like the map that appears atop Foursquare’s desktop homepage (with design cues similar to the mobile web updates launched yesterday).
Nearby friends now appear at the top of the activity stream ahead of friends in other places, making it easier to find people to hang out with in the immediate vicinity.
It’s all held together by a new sliding drawer on the left of the screen (access it with the hamburger at the top left). You’ll be able to access your profile, to-do list (and other lists), along with your settings and the app’s friend-finding feature.
For the first time, this version makes it obvious where Foursquare is headed as a service. Moving the check-in button to the bottom and adding the persistent search box finally puts Foursquare’s social features in the back seat (slightly) while highlighting their focus on local search and discovery. The perception of Foursquare as a solely a check-in app has been hard for the company to shake, but this version of the app offers their best chance yet of shaking that image and convincing new users they’re serious about local search.
What do you think of the update?