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ScreenHunter_01 Jan. 19 08.59

Foursquare announced today that it has partnered with SinglePlatform to add Menus to its Explore tab. The Explore tab, as many of you know, allows users to discover places around them — as governed by check-in history, social behavior and other data Foursquare continues to beef up.

Menus is a logical step and makes Foursquare more of a discovery engine. It also brings it closer to competitors like Yelp, which works with MenuPages. But in addition to a cool utility to find not only restaurants but also what they serve, this could eventually deepen the check-in experience.

In other words, check-ins, tips and the general local discovery paradigm previously happened at the merchant level. Menu information could be a step toward getting more granular. I’m not talking about just seeing what to eat, but reviewing, sharing and even “checking in” to individual items.

This would greatly deepen Foursquare’s data sets — something it highly values and utilizes (i.e., 1 billion check-ins) in Explore tab recommendations and its newer Radar feature. It’s also in line with a trend toward social sharing of more than just location (images, video, songs, dishes, etc.).

That of course includes rapidly growing mobile start-ups such as Instagram and Soundtracking (see our 2012 predictions). But in the context of local fare, what could result is some version of what we’re seeing from newer products like Kevin Rose’s Oink, or Stamped.

Of course most of this is speculation. For now, consider it a nice addition and utility to the Foursquare user experience. Next up in my mind will be OpenTable integration. More to come as we talk to both companies (including possible additions to ILM East).

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