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11/10/2010
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Foursquare Updates Web App

Location based social media site confronts competition from Facebook, Google, and Apple with cleaner home page and friend-finding tools.

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Location-based social network Foursquare on Tuesday showed off some web-application housekeeping, including a cleaned-up home page and simplified tools for finding friends.

"It's the little things: changes to our homepage and easier ways to add and manage your friends," the company said in a tweet.

The geolocation company cleaned up its homepage, emphasizing the activities of what account holders' friends have been up to, according to Foursquare. The redesign was made with an eye on making it easier to stay up-to-date and on top of things from the desktop, the company said in a blog.

"We also fixed up the tools for finding friends, making it simpler to add and manage them," Foursquare said. "There are a few other random tweaks and clean-ups, but those are the two more noticeable ones. Hope it makes it easier to keep up with your friends, even when your phone is not handy."

The market for location social media is heating up. Facebook Places debuted in August, in direct competition with Google Places, the search company's location service for businesses. Currently, Facebook Places is partnering with geolocation firms such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, and Booyah. And last year Apple acquired mapping company Placebase and in March 2010 sought a patent for technology that would make it possible for users of the iPhone or other mobile devices to form an ad hoc social network to communicate and share information.

Although some developers are investing heavily in this form of social network, the jury is still out. Only 4% of online adults are using these services, according to a November report by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life project. On any given day, only 1% of Internet users are using these services, the study determined -- virtually the same results as a similar report in May 2010 which found that 5% of respondents had used a geosocial site from their GPS-enabled mobile devices to notify others of their location.

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