Foursquare logos

Still think check-in apps are lame and useless? Foursquare just announced their 4.0 release for iOS which includes a new feature called Radar, that can automatically alert you about nearby things you might be interested in.

Foursquare describes the new Radar feature on their blog: “Now, if you follow a list, like the 101 Best Dishes of 2011, foursquare will let you know when you’re next to one. Or you save that yoga studio to your To-Do List (because you really want to try it); we can remind you when you’re close. Or, better yet, if you’re driving home and three of your friends are getting together nearby, we’ll tell you so you can meet up. The app doesn’t even have to be open, it just works. We call it foursquare Radar, because it finds things nearby that you normally wouldn’t know about.”

Locale calls location alerts “situtations”. Foursquare calls their service Radar.

Other Android apps like Locale have already offered this kind of location based artificial intelligence, but none of them have the number of users and business partners like Foursquare.

Sometimes the Android version gets updated before the iOS version, but this latest Foursquare release is exclusive to iOS5 for now. We don’t have a release date yet, but Foursquare confirmed they are working on building Radar for other platforms like Android.

Foursquare is one of my most used apps when I travel out of town because of their current Explore feature. It magically suggest locations I might want to check out based on my previous check-ins, the check-ins of my friends, and what’s popular among other users. You can filter by category like food, coffee, nightlight, etc. or search for specific keywords like “fried chicken.”

Radar sounds pretty awesome because it just takes that to the next level by automatically pushing out alerts based on your location. Dan Frommer of SplatF said this kind of software is able to “create a coincidence”, which I think is a perfect description. I’ve enjoyed quite a number of spontaneous experiences because of Foursquare, so I’m excited to see what new fun I can enjoy when this update hits Android.

If you previously tried Foursquare for Android in the early days and didn’t find much use for it, I strongly suggest installing the latest version from the Android Market while we wait on the 4.0 release. The number of small businesses that offer specials has continued to increase and I’ve found the growing list of tips at most restaurants to be very helpful.

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