Google Now is showing me some interesting place recommendations this week. They’re courtesy of Foursquare.
The Foursquare app isn’t installed on my Android phone. Nevertheless, I’ve seen tips about restaurants and coffee shops and even a public park directly from Foursquare in Google Now cards.
This isn’t live for everyone on Android, though. Google and Foursquare declined to comment.
The integration is interesting on a few levels.
First, Google already has data, partly from Zagat, to make recommendations about places like restaurants.
Second, this could amount to a major business deal for Foursquare, because Foursquare brings in revenue by licensing its location data, and because Foursquare might be getting new geolocation data from Google, even when Foursquare isn’t installed. The usage is crucial to Foursquare. While the core app does have more than 60 million registered users and more than 75 million tips, its most active days seem to be in the past. Data licensing matters more.
Foursquare has a complicated relationship with Google. Foursquare cofounder and chief executive Dennis Crowley sold his startup Dodgeball to Google in 2005, but he didn’t leave Google on the best of terms. In 2012 Foursquare elected to migrate from Google Maps to OpenStreetMap. (It has since returned to Google Maps on Android, while on iOS the Foursquare app employs Apple Maps.) But while Foursquare has competed with Google in certain ways, that hasn’t stopped Foursquare from coming out with a Google Glass app and allowing users to export check-in data to Google Places.
Now there’s something new, and it’s in an important place. Google Now is a showcase of Google’s smarts. It provides deep links into content from apps, emails, calendar events, and even some websites — and of course, a Google search box. Google has a list of integrations online, but Foursquare isn’t currently on it.
And yet, Foursquare tips have slid into my Google Now feed as I’ve walked around San Francisco. In one case, as I passed Precita Park in the Bernal Heights neighborhood, Foursquare suggested I stop by:
In another case, as I approached a coffee shop that goes by the name CoffeeShop — oh, San Francisco — I first saw a Google place recommendation for it, but a moment later, I saw Foursquare tips for it right above the Google place recommendation:
This suggests that Google isn’t giving up on place recommendations for this integration with Foursquare.
And maybe that’s not such a bad thing, because the cards are recommending different things. The card with Foursquare tips were about CoffeeShop’s iced coffee, while a review in the Google card cited its yerba mate. My favorite, in case you were wondering? It’s the Sherpa.