Foursquare is squaring off against Yelp, and has become a “mobile, socially powered version of Yelp," as Fast Company puts it, thanks to the Explore tool that gives users dining and bar recommendations based on location check-in.
Add the latest tweak to the tool, a proximity-based finder for maps that zooms and can be dragged and pinched at will, and Foursquare’s search iterates from present to future location. The sophistication of the app's user interface puts it ahead of Google Maps, MenuPages, Urban Spoon and Yelp.
Foursquare recently partnered with Open Table, adding a reservations function that covers more than 15,000 restaurants including hours of business and menu perusal.
Cofounder and CEO Dennis Crowley embraces the Yelpification of his service having noticed the drift away from basic check-ins and commenting in March, "People are using the app, but they’re not checking. I asked myself: Did we break something? But in fact, it’s because people are using Foursquare to look for where their friends are, to find things, and as a recommendation service. It’s almost like it doesn’t occur to them to check in.”
Along with Foursquare’s Tips and Lists, users are becoming more discerning. “In other words, we've moved beyond the daily (and boring) coffee-shop check-in. It's no longer a rote task that cheapens the check-in. If a venue wants to get users to check in, they're going to have to earn it—and they're starting to, thanks to deals and discounts in partnership with American Express,” writes Fast Company’s Austin Carr.
Foursquare’s 20 million users and 2 billion check-ins provide golden data for users and brands in a competitive field that is heating up: Google recently purchased Zagat, Seamless acquired Menu Pages, and Yelp’s reviews rose to 27.6 million 1Q 2012.
But Foursquare’s increased aptitude makes check-in one part of the brand’s overall equation, as its depth and breadth of information and sociability opens new territories and place it ahead of the crowd.