New “Nearby Friends” App for Facebook

New “Nearby Friends” App for Facebook

nearby-friends-press-3Facebook is launching a new feature which will allow users to turn on real-time location sharing, allowing friends to see where you are and meet up. The new feature is known as “Nearby Friends,” and is an offshoot of Facebook’s 2012 acquisition of the Glancee location sharing app founded by Andrea Vaccari. It is set to be available on iOS and Android in the next few weeks.

Users will be able to view a list of your friends that are nearby, and will also receive a notification when coming within a short distance of a friend. Users can also drop a ‘pin’ to show a more-precise location.

Of course there are also many privacy concerns with broadcasting your location. When you turn on Nearby Friends, “Facebook starts collecting data on your exact location and keeps details on where you’ve been in the past, not just places where you’ve used its app to check in.” Facebook hopes to mitigate privacy concerns by making the feature opt-in, granting control over who can see your location, and restricting availability to users over 18. Users can also see their past stored location history and delete parts or all of it.

Because Nearby Friends is built into Facebook, with its existing mobile user base of over 500 million, it may spell trouble for similar location sharing apps like Foursquare, Highlight, Banjo, Sonar, and Connect. On the other hand, Google formerly offered a similar feature years earlier, called Google Latitude, which was built into the similarly-ubiquitous Google Maps app, yet ended up shuttering the service last year—so it remains to be seen if Facebook will be more successful.