The short history of foursquare contains several ties to South by Southwest, so it’s only fitting that the location-based mobile app will ring in this year’s SXSW by releasing version 3.0 for Android and iPhone devices Tuesday night.
One of the most prominent new features in the updated app is an Explore tab, which offers suggestions based on users’ previous visited places, friends’ visited places, users’ trends, time of day, and other factors.
Highlights from a post by co-founder Dennis Crowley on the foursquare Blog:
It was almost exactly two years today that Naveen Selvadurai and I flipped the switch on foursquare, jumped on a plane to Austin, and introduced the folks at SXSW 2009 to our idea of “turning life into a game.” We’ve told the story a number of times, but we really had no idea whether people would dig the “check-ins and game mechanics” model or laugh us out of Texas. As it turned out, a lot of people loved it. By the time we got back to New York, we had 5,000 users. We started a company, raised a round of funding, and hired a bunch of the smartest people we could find.
Last year, we came back to Austin with a slightly bigger team (12 of us!) and more confidence in our ideas. Not only were people digging the “life as a game” idea, but we were seeing foursquare badges actually driving people to do things (“Gym Rat” badge, anyone?), we saw mayorships encouraging loyalty at coffee shops and restaurants, and merchants starting to reward people for their check-ins (“free coffee for the Mayor!”). It wasn’t hard to see how the social utility of check-ins, tips, and to-dos were starting to change the way people experienced both familiar neighborhoods and new cities. We launched “Trending” at SXSW 2010 — a way to see where a critical mass of people were checked in — and watched as people at SXSW used it as a “sixth sense” to know when it was time to switch parties and as a way to choose which panels to gravitate toward. We left Austin last year with just under 500,000 users.