Foursquare Allows Users to See (and Search) Into the Future

Google and Yelp have changed the way people navigate their urban environment over the past several years by utilizing GPS to help users locate nearby goods and services. But what do you do when you want to search where you will be, not where you are?

Urban navigators who rely heavily on apps such as Google and Yelp to locate the closest donuts and dry cleaners have likely found themselves, at some point, frustrated by the inability to search outside where they're standing. Enter Foursquare, the social networking app that allows people to "check-in" everywhere they go, keeping friends abreast of their every move. A recent upgrade to Foursquare's Explore tool will allow users to drag the proximity sensor to their desired location and easily search nearby recommendations based on other users' check-ins and reviews. Fast Company writer, Austin Carr, describes the updated user interface:

"Foursquare's drag-and-select map feature is much easier to navigate than searching "near" a street address; it provides results that have a much more narrow and personal focus."

An exciting development, but Carr points out that Foursquare has to make some headway on the data front before their Explore tool can reach its full potential. With a mere 15 million users, Foursquare doesn't stack up to Google's heavy traffic or Yelp's endless index of reviews. This careful attention to the needs of the user, however, may position Foursquare as a competitor, especially in high density locations where a Google Maps search for coffee can return an unwieldly number of points on a map. Carr applauds Foursquare for recognizing that "users don't want a complicated experience filled with endless results, nor an experience based on census tracts."

Thanks to Jessica Brent

Full Story: Foursquare Solves a Basic UI Problem that Eludes Google and Yelp


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