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Foursquare Upgrades iPhone, Android Apps

A BlackBerry refresh is slated for release this week, while updates for Symbian and Windows devices are in the works.

A day after releasing version 3 of its application for iPhone and Android, Foursquare Wednesday unveiled a new specials management system that allows businesses to run multiple promotions at any number of venues they operate.

Beginning on Friday, the 250,000 businesses that have already verified through Foursquare will have access to these new, free tools, which are designed to help them further expand, said Eric Friedman, director of business development, in a company blog.

Flash specials are door-buster deals for to the first people who arrive after a certain time. For example, Sports Authority is running a flash special from March 11 to April 9, with each store randomly unlocking on one day a free gift card, up to $500 in value, for the first person to check-in after 11 a.m., said Crowley. Businesses also can use Foursquare's new friends special, which lets them tailor discounts or promotions for people who visit a location in groups. H&M, for example, gives a 24% discount on one item to people who check in with three Foursquare friends, said Friedman.

The new swarm special tool lets companies reward people who check in at a location in large groups, while the newbie special is designed to help businesses lure new consumers to try out their wares through special discounts and promotions. In addition, Foursquare offers a loyalty special that rewards regular consumers for their continued patronage. The software developer built on its history, continuing to offer specials for mayors -- the most loyal clients.

About two years after first opening its doors, Foursquare on Tuesday released version 3 of its application for iPhones and Android devices, and it promised to provide BlackBerry users with a new edition for their mobile devices later this week.

"We've long wanted to build those things that can augment your experience of the real world -- software that introduces you to new places and new experiences -- and with the launch of Foursquare 3.0 we're getting a little closer to that vision," wrote co-founder Dennis Crowley in a company blog.

To close in on its goal, Foursquare focused on discovery and loyalty in version 3.0, using its newly developed "Explore" menu. This tool includes suggestions based on places where users and their friends have previously checked in; users' loyalty to a particular locale; sites that are popular with other Foursquare users; and specific factors such as time of day. In addition, users can search recommendations by keyword or category.

The software's "Me" tab includes retooled recommendation algorithms that tap the expertise of users' friends. If, for example, people are perceived as experts in a given field -- coffee houses, karaoke, or burger restaurants -- the new "Me" tab takes this into account, allowing users to seek guidance from these friends in those particular categories and places they explore the most, said Crowley.

"Now, with over half a billion data points, and with every additional check-in and every tip, Foursquare gets a little smarter for you, your friends, and the rest of the community. We're already finding this can be just as helpful for finding a brunch spot in your neighborhood as it can be for helping you navigate a new city for the first time," he said.

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