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Beyond Imagination: Announcing to All Creators the Free Tier of Pilgrim SDK

Written by Chuck Fuller on Oct 02, 2019 - Read time: 5 min - Read Later

Are you a drone pilot and have a crazy idea for a location-based photography app? Or, are you a music fan looking to build a concert app that recommends nearby events while you’re on the go? Today, with the launch of the free tier of Pilgrim SDK, Foursquare’s location SDK, the only thing that prevents you from building a truly innovative app is your imagination.

Innovation can (and should) come from any corner. That’s why Foursquare is excited to make its superpower available to independent developers at no cost and without restrictive usage limits. Previously only available to our enterprise customers, Pilgrim SDK now empowers independent developers to tap into Foursquare's most powerful location intelligence technologies to build engaging app experiences. 

The Free Tier of Pilgrim SDK Is Now Available

Central to Foursquare’s DNA is the core technology that powers our $100 million enterprise business: Pilgrim. Pilgrim leverages location, enabling developers to provide contextual experiences and personalized content through features that bring the real-world to your fingertips. 

Built since the early days of Foursquare, Pilgrim is one half of the Foursquare developer toolkit that includes the Places API, the latter of which is relied on by industry giants such as Uber, Samsung, and Twitter, as well as 150,000 registered app developers around the globe.

We’ve always believed that cool app ideas can and should come from anyone. Our tech is available to more than just the biggest companies and tech giants. So here’s looking to you, the developer community. 

We recently overhauled our Developer Console. Our Places API—which has been open since 2009—has been continuously evolving, such as when we released a version tailored to small and medium-sized businesses, called Places API for Start-ups. The launch of the Pilgrim SDK free tier highlights the next step in our commitment to always pushing the possibility of what’s imaginable for developers to create next.

Being developer-friendly, it’s important that we also addressed the barriers often faced when exploring new tools. One substantial obstacle seen by independent developers and small- to medium-sized companies integrating location SDKs is usage limits. We’re excited to share that we’ve removed that barrier with our free tier offering.

The free tier of Pilgrim allows developers with apps with 100,000 monthly active users (MAU) or fewer to utilize the technology—for free. That’s 100x times more MAUs available than alternative location solutions currently on the market. 

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Before you get started, we require developers to meet three main guidelines: 1) provide real consumer utility per our license agreement, 2) obtain opt-in consent from users, and 3) be clear in your privacy policy and consent notifications about what data is being collected. That’s it. A zero-cost SDK without any data passback expectations. We only ask that you build something great for users—and do it the right way.

These policies are in place because we believe that it’s essential to have an open and transparent relationship with your users. Foursquare's free tier terms of use and privacy policy are easily accessible to developers during both the sign-up and integration process. This allows developers to be confident that together with Foursquare, they can build ethical products that demonstrate a care for privacy.  

What Can You Build with Pilgrim SDK?

With access to Pilgrim SDK, developers can build solutions for tons of use cases—each made possible by foreground and background location sharing services as well as functionality that includes Geofences and User States.

Let’s start with our background location sharing services, powered by our core visit detection technology, which includes our highly-accurate Snap-to-Place functionality. By having an “always on” view into your users’ foot traffic patterns to specific chains or categories, you can reveal their brand affinities and preferences. Developers can then use these insights to build location-based segments and activate more targeted push efforts or marketing campaigns—all without your users having to confirm that a visit has actually taken place. Now, let’s use an example to illustrate: A developer can build a news app with a feed that surfaces stories based on a mix of interests and the types of places people go. Someone that frequents coffee shops in New York City, for example, might be recommended to follow accounts like @BestNYCCoffee or @ThinkCoffee on Twitter. With Pilgrim, developers can build geo-aware features that require you to know whether someone is actually "at" a specific venue, especially in complicated environments like dense cities or malls where precise visit detection is crucial.

Our SDK would not be considered truly complete without offering foreground location services and the features they power. With Geofences, developers have access to a versatile SDK that allows them to configure boundaries to an arbitrary latitude and longitude, custom polygon shapes, venues, categories—even chains—in the background and foreground. And with five event types that include enter, exit, and dwell, developers can power geo-aware functionality such as proximity-based features or notifications. Additionally, Foursquare makes it possible to create, configure and visualize geofences directly from our Developer Console. And unlike competitors, Pilgrim offers unlimited geofences, which means, of course, no worries about seeing an error code. New operating system changes from Apple and Android also require a greater need for robust location SDKs with enhanced foreground capabilities, so we’ve got you covered there too.

Imagine you’re a budding developer building a gaming app that grants players access to different levels or characters depending on whether they cross a predefined boundary or zone. Think about the next evolution of location dynamic games like Pokemon Go. An example like this just scratches the surface in terms of Pilgrim features and functionality. Our comprehensive location SDK also includes features like User States that enable you to determine if someone is at home, working, traveling, or commuting. As a result, developers can reach users with a high-impact message along their daily commute, such as a coupon for a free coffee delivered when passing by a coffee shop or an alert that details the number of minutes until the next train arrives. Features like these, which were once only available to enterprise clients, are now accessible to you, and for free.

How To Get Started 

The free tier of Pilgrim is one of many enhancements we're making to our developer platform over the next year. The goal is for all developers to unleash Foursquare's superpower, and that includes both rising stars such as Objective Zero and enterprise clients including AccuWeather. And, this is just the beginning. With Pilgrim, inventive ideas come to life. 

To get started, sign up for free tier SDK access at and create an account. Simply complete the SDK free tier application and start building as soon as you're approved. Learn more at

Interested in feature ideas or app thought starters? Check out our upcoming multi-part series that discusses what cool things you can build with Pilgrim, written by those who work on Pilgrim every day—our crazy-for-location, never-without-new-ideas employees.

Chuck Fuller

Senior Staff Product Manager



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Beyond Imagination: Announcing to All Creators the Free Tier of Pilgrim SDK

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