Foursquare said today that it will begin testing what it calls a new "sixth sense" feature that offers location-based recommendations that guide users toward things "you didn't even know you were looking for."
People who activate the new feature will receive proactive recommendations about menu items at a restaurant they're sitting at or get a list of local hotels and bars when they stroll into a new part of town or land in a new city.
For example, one update might read: "At Kanoyama Sushi? People talk about: 'superman roll,' 'tuna ribs and 'surprisingly cheap omakase.'"
The spontaneous discovery will be a fun experience for Foursquare users and a benefit to local businesses. The benefit is relatively clear: a new way to have people discover your business who might not have otherwise. It's like a spontaneous, free, unsolicited advertisement.
The new feature is a big part of Foursquare's overall vision toward developing a social software that "serendipitously" alerts users to nearby friends, merchants, deals and other insights. This is what Foursquare hopes will set it apart from competitors like Yelp. In April, Foursquare landed $41 million from private equity fund Silver Lake Partners and a cadre of venture capital firms to help the company grow beyond simply allowing users to check in.
Unlike other apps that go too heavy on the push notifications, Foursquare promises to be smarter -- not pushing you toward a dive bar on your 8 a.m. commute for instance. The update also pledges to be easier on mobile phone batteries as it uses background location data which can be a drain.
For now, the new recommendations feature will only be available to some Android users before it's rolled out to the Android community at large, the company said on its blog. It will create a similar version for iOS after that.