Foursquare launches active location push notifications for Android

Foursquare is preparing to add a significant feature to its existing mobile portfolio by unveiling a new side of its Android app: active push notifications.

Instead of waiting for users to check in to a place to provide them with recommendations, Foursquare is taking advantage of Android’s liberal background update policy, along with its excellent notification abilities, to push recommendations for places it thinks you’ll want to visit, dishes you’ll want to eat, or landmarks you’ll want to visit.

“The times when Foursquare surprises you with interesting insights, like the best dish to order when you sit down for dinner, or the three must-see places to go when you arrive in a new part of town. These aren’t ‘search’ moments, but they’re a big part of what makes Foursquare special.”

Foursquare thinks it has enough data to send accurate suggestions — 4 billion check-ins and 32 million tips have created an extensive database of locations — to send its users unobtrusive notifications. If undesired, they can be turned off.

The pilot will begin with a few thousands Android users, and the company says that battery drain is negligible, around 20 minutes per day.

The update will begin with select Android users and, likely when Apple launches iOS 7, roll out to iPhoners.

This may turn off some users of the passive check-in service, and will be seen as another way to spam its millions of members. But with Google Now fully entrenched in many users’ workflows, Foursquare is yet another startup looking at ways to build revenue through partnerships, and to get people to spend more time in its apps.