Foursquare’s Upcoming iOS Release Is A Pivotal Moment For The Company, As In It’s “Now Or Never”

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We all know the Foursquare story quite well: The app launched at SXSW four years ago, and a fair amount of people have been using it to check-in ever since. The company is releasing a new version of its flagship iOS app, which will put those 3.5 billion check-ins in the forefront with search and explore functionality. It’s a move that we saw coming ever since they did practically the same thing on their website back in October.

Having just made it easier to check-in on the app, Foursquare now wants you to dive head first into locations around you, hopefully using the app to help you decide where to go next. The moves come off as a bit manic, even though it’s clear that the company has a ton of information and just desperately wants users to start interacting with it.

The new app, which will be available sometime Wednesday morning, is now split up into four parts. The search box is at the top of the screen, and a map of your nearby friends is below. These main areas are followed by personalized recommendations for this particular moment in time, and then, of course, there’s the check-in button at the bottom. Basically, Foursquare wants you to go somewhere, and go there fast.

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We’ve heard that the company has had a hard time raising its next round and might be in acquisition discussions. Some feel like Yahoo! would be a perfect home for the service, which I happen to agree with. All of these things would be contingent upon this particular version of the app striking a new chord with consumers.

Having said that, there aren’t any other overhaul-esque iterations that Foursquare can go through at this point, and this particular update is labeled as version 6.0. It’s a matured product, and this latest version must grip with a new set of users who have relied on services like Yelp and Google for information about venues and suggestions on where to go and hang out.

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The conversation that people must have now is that Foursquare is an app to help keep you busy with things to do in the real world. The app, in a way, must be your personal assistant, using all of the information that you give it, and the information that your friends have given it, to help steer you to your next destination. But this is the last version of the app that Foursquare can release to grab a set of consumers that it doesn’t already have. If it can’t do it this time, the future is not looking good.

Badges were fun for a while; checking in was addictive; collecting points and being at the top of a leader board made up of your friends was a riot; and becoming mayor of a venue was a hoot. But that was then, and this is now.

The data is there from those of us who have provided it over the years. The ability to discovery is up front, and the recommendation technology is in place. The 30 million+ members of the community have done their job.

Will new people flock to it? Will Foursquare make our lives better? We’ll see once it launches. It’s stayed around this long, and that alone is impressive. The question that remains is how many more rounds can it fight without an earth-shattering, jaw-breaking knockout?

[Photo credit: Flickr]