Update: Facebook has already killed off the feature, according to ABC News. Looks like it was just a little test.
Facebook added another location feature to its iOS, Android, and mobile web apps this weekend. TechCrunch reported that Facebook’s engineers have shown off a new app on their mobile platform called “Find Friends Nearby.” It allows users to easily add each other on the social network. Find Friends Nearby also makes it easy for people at a certain location or event to fire up the app, and then quickly add each other, which gets rid of any need for having to search for names. A screenshot of the web app version is below:
Find Friends Nearby requires both users to log into Facebook and the FFN platform. If both users are logged in, they can then click a button to quickly add each other. It sounds like the perfect app for a social event where you are meeting a ton of new people. If only this was available for this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference.
Find Friends Nearby’s functionality is not to be confused for what Apple does with its Find My Friends app (but there is a third-party app that works similar and uses FB integration). FFN is not supposed to track your friends, but it is rather intended to make and add new ones. FFN’s functionality looks partly fueled by the technology that was once behind Glancee, which is a startup that was acquired by the folks in Menlo Park in May. Glancee was an app that helped people discover folks with similar interests, but Facebook quickly shut it down. Now, its technology looks rolled into Facebook’s FFN; although, the Glancee team and technology could be used for something very different—you never know.
Facebook engineer Ryan Patterson, who helped build FFN, responded to TechCrunch to help clear a few things up:
I built Find Friends Nearby with another engineer for a hackathon project. While it was originally called ‘Friendshake’, we settled on ‘Find Friends Nearby’ for launch (the URL was a little bit of a homage to the previous iteration).
For me, the ideal use case for this product is the one where when you’re out with a group of people whom you’ve recently met and want to stay in contact with. Facebook search might be effective, or sharing your vanity addresses or business cards, but this tool provides a really easy way to exchange contact information with multiple people with minimal friction.
Another people discovery tool includes Highlight, which saw a huge influx of users at this year’s SXSW conference in Texas. If both users have Highlight installed on their iOS device, a notification on both users’ phones will pop up displaying information that they chose to share (including photos and mutual friends). A comparable app is Skout, which has similar Facebook integration. As you can see, the social discovery app game is nothing new, but I think Facebook has taken an interesting approach by basing it around adding friends easily.
Facebook also has a check-in feature that allows users to let their friends know when they arrived at a certain location. When it first launched, many thought it would kill similar check-in services like Foursquare and Gowalla. Only the latter has closed down so far, but the former seems to be up-and-running quite nicely and adding tons of users every month.
If Facebook’s new Find Friends Nearby platform interests you, it is accessible by just flipping a few switches. On both iOS and Android, simply navigate to Menu > Apps > Find friends > Other tools > Find Friends Nearby, and on mobile you can open http://fb.com/ffn.
The new feature looks like a great start for Facebook—even if the functionality is a little limited right now. However, I expect Facebook to beef things up in the coming months.
Screenshot above via TechCrunch