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Foursquare and AccuWeather have jointly announced a plan to add activity suggestions to the AccuWeather mobile app, based on the weather and the available activities in your area. Examples given in a blog post on Medium by Foursquare senior manager Edward Tinsley include being directed to a local coffee shop that's rated highly within the FourSquare app when it starts to rain, or a notification about a nearby beach during a heat wave.

SEE: Dark Sky weather app gets a big redesign to help you visualize the day's forecast

Tinsley stresses that the new feature is completely opt-in; if users don't want to share background location with the AccuWeather app, they can simply proceed as normal, and the app's behavior won't change. But he also points out that Foursquare has 25 million users and over 100 million venues powering its localized recommendations (and AccuWeather itself claims 25 million monthly active users), so it might be worth checking out.

Either way, Tinsley says, "[W]hen Foursquare data is analyzed or leveraged across our product portfolio, it is aggregated, anonymized and/or pseudonymized."

He adds, "No other platform can enable this type of personalized experience and offer a creative new way for consumers to plan their lives around the weather," which sounds like a gauntlet thrown down at the feet of Google, Facebook, and the other Silicon Valley powerhouses with reams of user data and billions of dollars at their disposal.

Recent updates to Google Maps have already closed the gap between Google and this upcoming update to AccuWeather, chiefly the Explore tool, which can ... recommend highly-rated places to eat, drink, and shop based on your location.

Google Maps has pretty much no integration with weather data, though, so AccuWeather has a chance to get an edge, at least for users who don't want to bounce between two apps to decide where they're going to go next.

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With local businesses come local ads

Free apps need to make money somehow, and AccuWeather's new location-based activity suggestion system will present ads for equally nearby businesses -- but not necessarily local ones. Instead, AccuWeather and Foursquare appear to be aiming this project at deeper pockets.

Tinsley says, "For example, a fast food chain with a new line of salads can reach people who frequently visit gyms, hiking trails or organic shops, or an auto brand with a family friendly SUV can connect with people who visit baby stores, schools and toy stores."

The two examples are both interesting because they indicate that your suggestions are not just fire-and-forget. For these two examples to work, the app has to keep a running tally of the user's past locations, and that record must be fed into a system that produces suggestions for things you might want to buy.

In other words, the app needs to build a profile on you. (Which is not to say that Google Maps does not.) But as Tinsley says, these suggestions are completely opt-in, so whatever privacy level you've already selected for AccuWeather will remain in place until you decide otherwise, and it won't be automatically enabled for new users.

The takeaways

  • AccuWeather and Foursquare are teaming up to add location-based activity suggestions in the popular weather app. This update will also bring advertisements in the app for nearby businesses.
  • This suggestion system will be completely opt-in, to help protect user privacy.

Also see

Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.