The social check in app, foursquare, received a major overhaul just last week. A revitalized, speedier and streamlined new interface, and an equally new Explore tab, add much-needed depth to the user experience. The update first surfaced for iOS in the App Store, and has since found it’s way to Google Play for Android.
If you’re not familiar with the app, foursquare let’s you check-in to wherever you happen to be using the smartphone geo-location system. You can find where your friends are hanging and share everything on Facebook and Twitter so people can find you.
Where once there were five little tabs at the bottom of the screen there are now three: Friends, yours, and the new Explore tab. This is the focal point of the update and it’s like having Yelp! integration. By that I mean you access to a recommendation engine that gets data from your location and your friends’ to provide ideas on where to go, whether it be a gym, coffeehouse or museum. The app displays a map at the top and scrolling down shows a beautifully-designed photo feed of the hot spots. A second tap on the image brings up direction, contact info and user-submitted photos and comments.
Also added is the ability to “like” other people’s check-ins or add a “mention” in the friend feed, something users have been asking for a while.
Your profile page looks great now, too, with your avatar and 411 at the top, neat boxes to see friends, stats, photos, tips, badges and lists and your own recent activity at the bottom.
I’ve never been a big fan of foursquare with its odd vernacular of mayorships and badges, but I have to confess the new design is fresh and inviting, the photos make social voyeurism more fun, and any app that can find a decent cup espresso near me can’t be a bad thing. If you’ve never used foursquare, but are a social networking butterfly, now is the time. If you already use it, you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise after you download the free update.