Foursquare Launches Its Windows 8 And RT Apps For More Beautiful Local Exploration

Foursquare first pulled back the curtain on its native Windows 8 app back at Microsoft’s BUILD conference last June and proceeded to keep the project under wraps since then. After quietly cranking away on the app for months, the team is finally ready to show off what they’ve been working on — that Windows 8 app (along with the Windows RT version) are now available in the Windows Store

And here’s the real kicker: they’re absolutely gorgeous.

It’s a far cry from the sort of Foursquare experience you’re probably used to on your smartphone — on mobile devices there’s a solid chance you’re just firing up the app, checking in to a location, and maybe scrolling through your feed to see where your friends have run off to.

All the usual functionality is there in the Windows app too — you can check in, naturally, and add venues and locations to your lists for later in-person perusal. But Foursquare for Windows 8 is a visually sumptuous affair that’s really meant to reach out, grab users, and most importantly, rethink how they interact with the service. Foursquare looks at its Windows app as a base station of sorts, a place where you can more comfortably dig up information on what’s around you.

“It was nice to be able to stretch out a bit in terms of design,” said Foursquare’s mobile bizdev lead David Ban.

Thanks to all that real estate that these larger displays have afforded the Foursquare team, each venue now has its own card that’s punctuated by big, bright, user-submitted photos, as well as a grid of images highlighting the people who are currently there. Swiping left and right allows users to dig deeper into the top-rated and trending joints nearby, and a live tile will join the menagerie that is the Windows 8 start screen.

Searching for things is naturally a crucial part of the Foursquare experience, and it’s simple enough to find few venues from the Windows Search charm. After the app is installed, Foursquare becomes yet another data source for the search tool to cull from so it’s simple enough to find local coffee shops while poking around in a spreadsheet.

With these new Windows apps, Foursquare wants people to do more than just check-in and put their device away. By building the app to be more of a destination for local exploration then a utility, the company is trying to capture a large swath of users who may not have seen much point in constantly broadcasting their location. It doesn’t hurt that the app is fully usable from a consumption standpoint without having to login with a Foursquare account either.

More importantly, it’s one of first times Foursquare has really broached the subject of big displays with a native app — there’s no iPad-tailored version of Foursquare (though the mobile website is rather fetching) and the company only recently added a tablet UI to its Android app. Ban wouldn’t confirm whether or not Foursquare is looking at bringing this sort of visual approach to platforms like the iPad or Android tablets, but he didn’t note that he wouldn’t be surprised if some people would take notice of what was achieved with the Windows 8 app.

“This has opened some eyes,” he said. “It may well serve as inspiration for future projects.”

Ban remained just as mum when it came to the notion of bringing Foursquare to other desktop platforms. After all, now that the company has broken the desktop barrier, what’s to stop them from whipping up a version for OS X? According to Ban the company is carefully mulling over its potential expansion opportunities, but for now it’s more concerned with updating its iOS app for iOS 7 than building another separate desktop app.