Foursquare Releases Pilgrim SDK, Allowing Third Parties to Access Its Location Intel

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Apps and brands can now get their hands on some of the technology Foursquare uses to pinpoint where smartphones are in real-time — and get a clearer picture of how and when people move from location to location.

Today the company announced that it is making its Pilgrim SDK available for third-party developers to license. When a Foursquare user, who has shared that they love a particular food or if they frequent coffee shops, arrives at a new locale, the software sets off notifications of nearby recommended places to eat or grab a cup of java. As they step out to new locations, Pilgrim detects the change, which can prompt new contextual recommendations based on where they relocate to. The anonymized data Foursquare gathers through its software can also be used to paint a picture of trends and shifts.

“The launch of Pilgrim SDK further cements our role as the leader in location intelligence,” Foursquare president Stephen Rosenblatt told Street Fight via email. “We know that the future of tech is all about mobile and location.”

Foursquare’s Steven Rosenblatt

For mobile coupon app developer SnipSnap, the availability of the Pilgrim SDK offers a solution to a long-running issue the company faced. SnipSnap was a beta user of the software development kit, as were companies such as Capital One, local deals app Retale, and gift-card marketplace Raise.

“We struggled to be able to deliver timely and accurate push-notification reminders when folks arrived in store,” says SnipSnap founder Ted Mann. “Location targeting and location-based reminders were really tough to execute, and we we’re constantly trying to balance accuracy with battery drain.” The company has offered geofenced mall notifications for coupons and offers consumers have, however Mann says store-specific reminders would be more useful.

The introduction of the Pilgrim SDK presented a more accurate solution that would not kill consumers’ smartphone batteries, he says: “Now if you have a coupon saved on SnipSnap, or we have a featured offer available, we can notify you as soon as you arrive at the store.”

There is a deeper play here for Foursquare, naturally, as it interweaves the company’s technology with services that licensed third parties offer. Mobile marketing automation provider Appboy, for example, sees the release of the Pilgrim SDK as a way for marketers to tap its expertise for sending contextual messages in conjunction with location intelligence.

“These brands will reach customers more effectively and fully tap into users’ mobile moments,” said Appboy CEO Bill Magnuson via email. “Foursquare put location context on the map. As a pioneer in the space, their product is battle tested, highly accurate, battery efficient, and widely deployed.”

Joao-Pierre Ruth is a Street Fight contributor.