Monday, 21 April 2014

Facebook Will Now Tell You when Friends Are Nearby

Facebook launches a new function for its Android and iPhone apps called "Nearby Friends," which allows users to track each others' locations continuously down to the nearest half mile or — if you choose — as near to your precise location as possible.

Facebook, Facebook Nearby Friends

The site started rolling out an "optional" new mobile feature Nearby Friends, which alerts you when your friends are nearby (and vice versa.) But if you fear weirdos, don't worry: The feature will only load if you opt-in and turn it on.

Introducing Facebook Nearby Friends Feature:

Facebook also lets you decide which of your friends can view your location, and those friends can only do so if they allow you to view them too.

Once you've got Nearby Friends turned on, however, you'll be able to see the location of any other friends who are also using Nearby Friends at the same time. And they'll be able to see you.

The system uses GPS and triangulation between cellphone towers to get your location (the combo reduces the drain on your battery that would be pronounced with GPS alone). It then produces a map with all your "nearby friends" on it, as long as they too have enabled their precise location.

Nearby Friends launches amid the growing popularity of location-based mobile dating apps such as Tinder and Hinge. But unlike those apps, Facebook’s feature will let you meet up only with people who are already your friends.

Of course, all the safeguards and slow roll-out mean that most users won’t have the feature available right away on Thursday but rather in the coming weeks and months. Initially it will go to people who are likely to appreciate it, Vaccari said, such as people who have “checked in” to various restaurants, bars or other locations using Facebook.

Nearby Friends also won’t be available to users under 18, said Andrea Vaccari, a product manager at Facebook. He said the tool “makes it easy to join your friends in the real world.”