Yesterday, Facebook execs announced the launch of Facebook Places. Basically, Facebooks’ version of Foursquare, which will allow people to use the GPS on their mobile phones to let friends know exactly where they are and what they are up to.
Facebook Places is currently available in the United States through the latest version of Facebook’s iPhone app or for other non-iPhone owners through the company’s site for advanced mobile devices. Facebook said it does have plans to develop apps for other mobile OS’s such as Android and we would assume Blackberry, but no timeline on when those will release has been announced.
Users who wish to announce their location to their friends on Facebook would tap a “check in” button to see a list of places nearby, and then choose the place that matches where they are. Once you “check-in”, the app will automatically update your friends News Feeds and show up in your recent activity. You will also be able to “tag” people who are there with you, but only if they are also currently checked in at that location to avoid people falsely tagging people to a place.
Facebook seems to be getting the fact that the privacy thing is important, so they have put safeguards in place to address potential privacy concerns. First, check-ins will appear only to users’ Facebook friends as a default, and users can further trim the recipients list to specific friends. Maybe they finally are starting to understand that maybe I don’t want the whole world to know I am at such and such bar watching the game or something. Users also can remove check-ins by phone or web at any time.
Now it would be easy to think that this automatically puts Facebook at odds with the current kings of the “where are you” mobile mania, Foursquare and Gowalla, but it seems to be the opposite. Facebook said there are plans to enhance integration with Foursquare, Gowalla, and other similar services, and to drive that point, home executives from both Foursquare and Gowalla were present at the announcement previewing plans to ramp up how their users will announce their locations on the social-networking site.
So what do you think folks, will Facebook Places be a hit? Will it eventually supplant Foursquare in this space? Are you going to give it a try at all or do you think you’re going to stick with Foursquare or one of the current services? Let us know.