Local recommendations mobile app Alfred has arrived in a new, iPad-optimized format (iTunes) which includes deeper integration with Facebook. The optional Facebook Connect sign-in feature enables Alfred to better learn about its users’ preferences by mining Facebook data for likes and check-ins.
Alfred, which comes from a startup called Clever Sense, is focused heavily on its use of algorithms to surface recommendations as a differentiating factor between it and other, similar applications.
Previously, Alfred based its recommendations for restaurants, bars, coffee shops and nightclubs on a quick “taste profile” created for users through a short quiz upon launch.
After answering a few questions, the app would produce (in our experience, at least), relatively accurate results, if, in some cases, fairly obvious ones. It was interesting, however, to see the details as to why you would like result X or Y, instead of seeing just the recommendation itself. Now Alfred will tell you even more information about its interest graph, informing you that, for example, “91% of people out of 650 like this place,” alongside each recommendation.
And the stream of recommendations is no longer limited to 10, as it was at launch. You can now scroll through all the recommendations for a given area, sorted by your interests.
Also new is an optimized Google Maps view that plots all your recommendations on a map for easy access. Before, individual recommendations could only be viewed on the map one-by-one.
But the most interesting update has to do with the added Facebook data-mining feature, which arrives in the iPhone version, too, as do all the new features.
Now, when you tag a place in a Facebook status update (this is the new format for the Facebook “check-in,” by the way), Alfred knows this and asks you later to rate it using simple buttons like a “thumbs up” and “thumbs down.” Soon, it will do the same for Facebook Likes. Foursquare integration is next, we’re told, followed by Twitter (via geotags and mentions).
Local recommendations alone aren’t the end-game for Alfred, though. It will soon begin to use its artificial intelligence and machine-learning algorithms to start recommending local deals, too, also based on your interests. Given the increasing number of daily deals and other Groupon-like services, it makes sense that a recommendations engine like Alfred would begin to offer some sort of deal curation service like this on top of its business recommendations.
Alfred won’t talk exact download numbers for its app, but says they “exceeded expectations,” when the app passed 100,000 downloads a month ago. User engagement is high, the company notes, with active users interacting with the app 3 times per week, with an average rate of 1.8 times per week for everyone else.
The new iPhone/iPad app is available on iTunes here. An Android version will be launched in the future.