Make no bones about it, Foursquare has been adrift in rough waters. The company has been struggling to make revenue targets and convince VCs that its long-awaited smart features are worth the gamble. Now, promises will turn into action, as the geolocation company announced its new, “smarter” recommendation system as according to Bloomberg, “a major tech company” — later reported to be Microsoft — is supposedly kicking the tires on a strategic investment in the company.
Announced via the company’s blog, the new Foursquare app will roll out to just a few thousand people on Android phones. The overall technology is very similar to Foursquare’s old feature, Radar, which utilized push notifications to check in to saved locations. However, instead of pushing flagged content, Foursquare works in the background to push recommendations for nearby locations from friends and the overall Foursquare community. This expands Foursquare’s services to incorporate some passive location features, made popular a couple of years ago by SXSW darling Highlight.
“Today, with everything that Foursquare has learned about the world, it can be proactive recommendations – helping you discover the greatest things nearby without even having to open the app,” the company wrote. “You still check in when you want to share with friends, and now we may give you great recommendations even if you don’t.”
Foursquare boasts that this new feature can run without draining batteries, citing internal tests on many Android phones that conclude the app drains battery at the rate of 0.7 percent per hour. That’s not bad, considering the impact that games and social networks have on the phone battery when left on.
The new app emerges as Foursquare looks for more investment. According to Bloomberg, the company has made a surprising amount of revenue by allowing brands to target users with ads after they have checked into a specific location. That monetization strategy could make Foursquare attractive to VCs again, and help bolster credentials for its end goal — to gain new funding from a major tech company. It’s easy to see how the company’s check-in ads could marry well with its new passive location technology, and that possibility gives Foursquare a little extra sizzle as it shops around for more money. Details were sparse on what exactly Microsoft might have in mind for Foursquare.
The post says that the thousands of Android users who have access to the new Foursquare will expand to encompass all phones within the next few months, with iOS to follow.
This post was updated at 1:27pm with news that Microsoft is the company considering an investment in Foursquare.