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Foursquare 3.0 update adds recommendation engine, more deals and SXSW AmEx experiment

Foursquare 3.0 for iPhone
As promised in a company blog post, Foursquare 3.0 landed in the App Store packing quite a few changes. The biggest of these is the use of the vast amounts of check-in data Foursquare users generate. The company has now started putting the collective power of every check-in made since its inception two years ago into a new recommendation engine.

Foursquare ExploreThe location-based check-in app now boasts a new personalized recommendation engine courtesy of the new 'Explore' tab, replacing the 'Tips' tab. Here you'll see recommendations based on your travel patterns, where your friends frequent, and what the wider Foursquare community thinks of places in your area. You can check out recommendations for places to eat, bars, coffee houses, shops, or even entertainment venues.

Foursquare have also rejigged the points based scoring system, giving the gaming elements that made the check-in system popular at the beginning, a higher priority. The new points system allows you to score points for doing things you would normally, or scoring big by trying new things. Going to a new restaurant in town for instance will net you more points, as will going out with old friends. Foursquare calls this points for things 'you're proud of,' rather than simply checking in over and over in the same place gaining points towards a Mayorship.

Foursquare Friends check-in dealsSpeaking of Mayorship, it's become pretty hard to become Mayor of a popular place due to the number of Foursquare users around these days, so Foursquare is rolling out some alternative ways for people to earn rewards and businesses to grant them. Merchants will be able to offer seven types of promotions for customers using Foursquare. Joining the existing Mayor Specials, these include Loyalty Specials, Check-in Specials, Friend Specials (checking in with friends), Swarm Specials (checking in with lots of other people), Newbie Specials (for your first check-in), and Flash Specials, which will revolve around the first to do something on a particular day. All the deals available around your current location will be listed in the 'Places' tab for easy browsing, putting more and more emphasis on location-based deals.

Foursquare is also getting in on the SXSW action again this year, having seen massive success in 2009 and 2010. This year however, they've managed to set up an experimental deal with American Express that allows AmEx card holders to gain automatic savings when they swipe their cards at 60 participating retailers around the Austin, Texas area. The official list of participating places to be unveiled tomorrow, but the experiment will run between the 11th and 15th of March, with users simply needing to register their AmEx cards and use the Foursquare app to unlock the deal.

If you're headed to Austin for SXSW this year and own an American Express card, then it's worth checking out the updated app and the deals. For those of us who aren't lucky enough to be attending SXSW 2011, the 3.0 update brings significant improvements and a change in tact for the company. Either way it's certainly worth a free download.

Foursquare [iTunes] - Free

Tags: American Express, AmericanExpress, apps, business, Foursquare, iOS, social networking, SocialNetworking, SXSW