Foursquare's recently released Explore function is designed to move beyond the check-ins and badges the site is known for into territory that feels more like an actual search engine.
According to Search Engine Watch, foursquare Explore "leverages (check-in) data in a useful fashion as a web-based personalized search engine."
The new feature exercises the primary user's check-in history, as well as those of his or her friends, to more accurately find places he or she might be interested in. It finds venues the user hasn't been to before, as well as those the person's friends might suggest. It also can focus on results with deals or specials and offer recommendations on what to try.
Other benefits include its ability to pull results from specific searches (such as "tiramisu"), as well as adjectives or time-sensitive keywords.
Also, by utilizing friends' foursquare history, the user can receive personalized results, even if he or she has never checked in anywhere before.
Lastly, Explore can filter places by popularity, provide top picks for travel destinations based on checked-in places from home and help nurture friendships by finding common places that have been visited.