Foursquare Brings Explore Update to Mobile

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Foursquare added another update to its mobile app yesterday, continuing a rollout of new features. The once geo-social-pioneer-turned-local-juggernaut, has updated its Android and iPhone applications with many of the local search features launched a few weeks ago on Explore for the Web — namely, better filters and in-search photos, as well as improved recommendations through wider access to Foursquare’s dynamic dataset.

Expanding on a partnership with New York-based startup SinglePlatform that was announced in January, mobile venue pages now include menus and pricing information as well, with data for over 250,000 businesses in 13,000 markets across the U.S.

As was the case with the launch of Explore on the Web, this update to the mobile app is meant to expand Foursquare’s local search capacity from a “right here, right now” to an “anywhere, any time” use case. When you fire up the tab, you can select a location around which to search — whether it’s where you are right now, a block away, or on the other side of the country.

Foursquare has also taken a stab at solving a major user interface (UI) issue facing location-based search. As the breadth of content increases and the location component of search become more dynamic (i.e. not simply around a users current location,) the map is proving to be increasingly underequipped as a visualization tool. The company has tried to smooth the transition between location-based, and content-oriented search by replacing the “recommend” and “trending” banner with tabs for “list” or “map” displays, but the experience remains a bit problematic.

Foursquare is not Facebook; but it’s not Color either. What we are seeing is not some overarching rebrand in the vein of Gowalla’s last-ditch pivot to social guides. The updates to Explore and partnership with SinglePlatform show an incremental but concerted effort to execute on a fairly straightforward roadmap that leads the company into a direct and heated competition with Yelp and Google over the local information space.

The social, search, and local content components from which Foursquare, Google and Yelp originated, are becoming three legs of a much bigger stool. Over the next 12-18 months, it’s looking more and more like consolidation will winnow out the field, leaving a handful of companies — Facebook included — to duke it out for market share.

Steven Jacobs is an associate editor at Street Fight.