Foursquare grabs content from Metro as the check-in becomes a commodity

Location-based game service Foursquare announced its first partnership ever with a news organization today, grabbing location-specific reviews and tips for users in Canada.

With the deal, the news chain will add content so people who follow Metro on Foursquare can receive alerts when they’re physically close to a place that’s been covered. If you’re close to a restaurant that Metro has reviewed, you’ll get a “tip” through your phone with a link to the full story.

It’s an interesting move, as it comes a little more than a week after user-generated reviews giant Yelp basically copied the “check-in” function that helped make Foursquare popular. The New York startup pioneered the check-in, a lightweight and temporary way of sharing your location with friends by typing in where you are (e.g. at a restaurant or bar). Other competing mobile social networks like Google Latitude had used persistent location-sharing, which doesn’t work well on the iPhone because Apple doesn’t allow apps to run in the background. It’s also a bit too far ahead on the privacy curve.

The check-in is now a commodity, as others like Yelp, Rummble and Loopt have adopted it. So Foursquare rolled out an application programming interface to stay ahead by pushing developers to create all sorts of interesting apps around its data.

Getting editorial content through Metro also patches another relative weakness. Foursquare doesn’t have the kind of in-depth reviews and criticism Yelp has accumulated over several years. Plus, the design of its current tips section encourages users to leave bite-sized comments, which may not be as helpful as a full review for discovering interesting places and things to do.