Foursquare on Wednesday introduced Radar, a new feature built into its iPhone app that will allow the New York company to introduce capabilities it had previously only dreamed of.
Most notably, Radar will push Foursquare from not only being a check-in centric app but also toward being an app that also alerts users of places, people or things they might want to visit near wherever they are at that moment.
Radar (if a user decides to activate the new feature) does this by using the location tracking and geo-tagging features built into Apple’s iOS 5 mobile operating system found on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
“We’ve always felt that Foursquare is about experiencing the world around you, and what’s exciting about Radar is you can use Foursquare without having to actually pull your phone out of your pocket,” Alex Rainert, director of product at Foursquare, said in an interview.
With Radar on, Foursquare “can remind you and say ‘Hey, you’re near that burger shop you wanted to try,’ or ‘You’re near that art gallery your friend was talking about.’”
Foursquare’s Radar feature hit iPhones qy in an update to its iOS app.
“We think Radar is a really big step for Foursquare,” Rainert said. “It’s one of the things that really is at the core of where we see Foursquare heading in the future.”
Among the other things Radar can do is notify a user whenever they’re near a location where three or more of their Foursquare contacts have checked in.
“It’s about getting you the right content at the right time without having to change your behavior,” Rainert said. “You can get content to a user before they even know they want it.”
Users can also use Radar to follow a list, such as U.S. Soccer’s list of places around the U.S. to watch its games, or create their own lists and Foursquare will push a notification to let a user know they’re near a place on the list.
Of course, if a user doesn’t want any of these features they don’t have to use them, and Radar can be turned off or on whenever the need arises, Rainert said.
“It’s always something you can turn on or off,” he said. “We’re excited to see how people respond to Radar. There will be some fine-tuning to do over the next few weeks since this is all so new and really just some things we couldn’t quite do before.”
Another change in the new Foursquare app, albeit a much smaller change than Radar; the ball in the app icon is now green instead of purple.