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Foursquare 6.0 for iPhone improves Explore recommendations

This seems to be the week for social networking app news, with Twitter's Vine app taking most of the spotlight so far. Today's news is about Foursquare 6.0, which has just become available through the iOS App Store's software updates and was announced on the Foursquare blog.

Foursquare first came to life in 2009 as a way to check in at venues, see what your friends were up to, grab mayorships and hopefully get the occasional badge. Lately, the app has been more about exploring venues near you, thanks to its recommendations engine Explore. But starting out on that exploration wasn't easy to do. That's what the new update is fixing.

When launched, version 6.0 of Foursquare replaces the Foursquare logo at the top of the screen with a new Explore search box. That's tied to a new, faster auto-complete engine for faster results when you're looking for that cinnamon roll joint.

The big difference, though, is that Foursquare is no longer fixated on telling you where your friends are. Instead, it places an emphasis on recommendations, giving hints about places where people go after being at the same venue you're at, or providing insight into places friends like in a city you're visiting. The app exclusively recommends good lunch spots around lunchtime, a convenient way to stop going to the same old burger joint and go to a new burger joint.

One interesting move in the UI is that the check-in button has moved to the bottom of the app; apparently that means that Foursquare's recently introduced tap-and-hold-to-check-in function is working well. The button also floats above the listings, which is kind of an interesting and useful UI change.

I'm not entirely sure if this is new, but the home, profile and history, to-do list, and other lists are now found by tapping a disclosure icon next to the Explore search box or just sliding the current screen to the right. The home screen slides to the right to reveal all of the controls you'll need to have Foursquare fun.

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