If you’re a regular social media user, you can’t say you didn’t see this coming. Walking along the footsteps of geolocation integration and innovation by services such as Twitter, Foursquare, and Gowalla, Facebook has too, gone location aware with their newest feature called Places. As the name suggests, Places is all about locations and allows you to check into different places. The check-ins can be done either alone or with friends or for friends who don’t have a smartphone.
The coolest thing about Facebook Places check-ins is that you can tag your friends or be tagged by your friends. This is something that Foursquare or Gowalla don’t offer. Along with the new feature, Facebook has also announced a new API for it. Developers can use the Read API already to read check-ins of users and their friends while the Write and Search API is in closed beta testing.
What should come as a surprise to many is that Gowalla and Foursquare are the launch partners for Facebook Places along with Yelp. They announced their support for Places by integrating Facebook’s API so that cross check-ins can be made possible. It is already possible to some extent as Gowalla and Foursquare check-ins show up in the Facebook new feed but with the use of API, check-ins will show in Facebook Places. Despite that, no matter what the industry thinks, the introduction of Facebook places is the beginning of the decline of the user base of Foursquare and Gowalla and the likes.
Facebook will allow Facebook Page owners to claim their Places and advertise them as well. This is a huge business incentive for Facebook Page owners and will certainly add a lot of value and attraction for advertisers.
Facebook were careful to demonstrate the privacy settings for Places and friend tagging in Places. Users will be able to restrict their check-ins to just their friends or just selected friends. Friends will be asked when a friend tags them in a check in. This can be turned off altogether in the privacy settings too. Facebook comes under a lot of fire for privacy concerns so this was a right move by Mark Zuckerburg and company.
Facebook Places will go live soon at facebook.com/places. Facebook will be updating their iPhone app with Places support tonight, while Android and BlackBerry will get support soon. For those smartphones that don’t get a Places compatible Facebook app can go to touch.facebook.com using an HMTL5 compatible browser with geolocation support on any phone to check in.
This is going to be huge.