Foursquare has built its service around check-ins, but with the addition of redesigned venue pages, more detailed recommendations, and so on, the company has been moving farther away from being just a check-in app. The latest update could be the final step as Foursquare continues its transformation into a location discovery platform.

According to reports, Foursquare plans to announce the first public test of a new version of its service that will automatically detect what restaurant or neighborhood someone is in and make suggestions accordingly — without that person ever checking in.

“What we’re launching here is this smarter version of Foursquare that can sense where you are and give you the best recommendations,” said Dennis Crowley in an interview. As an example, he said that when we visited a cafe in San Francisco on Wednesday morning, the new app “told me the thing people talk about here are the breakfast burritos and this particular type of iced coffee.”

It’s similar to the service provided by the opt-in Radar feature that was launched in 2011 on iOS. Unfortunately Radar was a bit ahead of its time and didn’t stick around long enough. This new app is essentially take two. There’s no need for customers to launch Foursquare, search for the cafe, or check in to tell the service where they are. “We’ve basically removed the friction from Foursquare,” Crowley said.

What does this mean for businesses? First it solidifies the importance of listing your venue on Foursquare. If you’re not present, customers can’t leave tips and recommendations. Second, it could be a great way to appeal to new customers who rely on using Foursquare to find new restaurants, shops, and so on. And finally, exposure is no longer depends on people checking in — all they have to do is be nearby and the app does the heavy lifting of promoting your business.

The new app, which doesn’t have a name yet, will be given to about 2,000 Android users in the next few weeks and will be rolled out more broadly later this year. It’s possible that the company is waiting to expand until the upcoming iOS 7 operating system is publicly available. If tests are successful, all Foursquare members should get the new software by the end of the year.

[Via: The New York Times, Image credit: Michael Galpert]