Facebook wants to help you meet friends offline

A new optional feature broadcasts people's locations to their friends

Facebook's Nearby Friends feature provides notifications when friends are nearby.

Facebook's Nearby Friends feature provides notifications when friends are nearby.

Facebook now has its own take on location sharing -- an optional feature that periodically broadcasts people's locations to their friends.

"Nearby Friends," a mobile feature for Android and iOS, lets users share with others their general location, or their precise location for a limited period of time.

Those who turn on the feature will be occasionally notified when friends are nearby via a push notification on their device. Users can choose which of their Facebook friends will be notified of their location. Users can turn off the feature at any time.

In addition to the notifications, users might see Nearby Friends posts in their news feeds, and they'll also be able to pull up a list of friends and their locations.

"Sharing your location with Nearby Friends goes two ways -- you and your friends both have to turn on Nearby Friends and choose to share with each other to see when you're nearby. Your friends will only be able to see that you're nearby if you share this info with them and vice versa," wrote Andrea Vaccari, a Facebook product manager, in a blog post.

Nearby Friends will begin rolling out in the U.S. over the coming weeks, Facebook said on Thursday.

In addition to placing themselves in a general area, users can also broadcast a specific location, like a movie theater or restaurant, display it on a map and share it with specific friends for a limited amount of time.

Facebook hopes the service will facilitate real-life connections and meetups, which seems a nice departure for a site that usually has people glued to their screens.

But there are some real privacy implications in providing a constant broadcast of users' whereabouts. Other services like Foursquare and Facebook's own Nearby Places feature typically have users manually share their location when they visit specific places. Facebook hopes to address those privacy concerns in Nearby Friends issues by providing the service only for friends who mutually activate it for each other.

Turning the feature on creates a private log in Facebook of a person's location history. Users can clear their location in their settings.

Facebook did not say whether advertisements would be included as part of the service, although it's not hard to imagine ads from local businesses eventually appearing.

The feature builds on technology from Glancee, a mobile-discovery app developer Facebook acquired in 2012.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and servicestelecommunicationapplicationsiossocial networkingmobilesocial mediainternetFacebookmobile applicationsAndroid OSFoursquareMobile OSes

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?