Foursquare’s new homepage finally makes it useful for newbs

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Foursquare’s homepage is now  a whole lot more useful– even if you don’t use Foursquare.

The location-based social network is opening up its Explore recommendation engine so that visitors don’t need a Foursquare account to take advantage of it.

While Explore has been a part of the service’s mobile experience since 2011, it didn’t get a web interface until this January. So while mobile is the company’s bread-and-butter, it’s clear that Foursquare isn’t ignoring your desktop.

But Foursquare’s latest move has a larger, more obvious focus — compelling new users to sign up. Because the service is only as useful as the information Foursquare has on users’ habits,  visitors to the new homepage will be better served by actually creating their own accounts. And that’s exactly what Foursquare wants.

“The more you check in, the smarter it gets,” Foursquare’s head of product Alex Rainert told VentureBeat way back in January.

But while check-ins are a clear focus for the social network, Foursquare says its data is now so robust that it doesn’t need users to check in before it’s able to recommend new places.

The webpage redesign also brings with it some of the tweaks Foursquare made to its apps in June. Now, users can search for things like “free Wi-Fi” or “late night” to get results that are more flexible and not tied solely to what a venue sells.

Google and Yelp had better watch out.

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