Facebook has launched a new feature called Places, which will enable users to share their location with others.
Users will be able to ‘check-in’ to a location and this information will be visible to friends. At the same time, you’ll also be able to see if any of your friends are nearby.
The service has been rolled out initially for the iPhone, but will also work on a desktop if you’re using a geo-location aware HTML5 enabled browser.
However, while the latest version of Facebook for iPhone adds a ‘Places’ icon, it won’t work yet for European users as the service is currently only active in the US. There is no exact date for its arrival outside of the US, but the Facebook blog states that, “we expect to make it available to more countries and on additional mobile platforms soon.”
When users ‘check-in’, they’ll be presented with a list of places near to their location which they can choose from. If they are with friends who have also ‘checked-in’ to that location, those friends can then be ‘tagged’.
Facebook’s Places product manager Michael Sharon has pre-empted the inevitable privacy concerns stating that, “With Places, you are in control of what you share and the people you share with. You choose whether or not to share your location when you check in at a place. When you check in, you can tag friends who are with you but only if their settings allow it. When you are tagged, you are always notified.”
You can always remove any Places check-in or tag using your mobile device or on the web. It's like removing yourself from a photo tag. You also have the choice to turn off the ability for friends to check you in at Places. Go to your Privacy Settings and turn off the setting to "Let Friends Check Me In."
As some have already noted, the icon for Places in the iPhone is literally the number ‘4’ placed in a square – and Places has obvious similarities to Foursquare. However, FourSquare and Gowalla appeared on stage at the Facebook Places launch and said that they will work with Facebook to tailor their own services to work along-side Places.
"This will certainly put the spotlight on the check-in industry even more but I don't think it represents Facebook stealing our thunder," Foursquare's vice president of mobile and partnerships Holger Leudorf told the BBC.
Link: Facebook blog