Facebook "Place Tips" Will Advise You Where To Go & Challenge Yelp At Its Own Game
If you've ever stopped in the middle of a busy sidewalk in a new city (watch out for speeding strollers) and wondered where the heck you were or which restaurant was a good place to stop and grab a bite, this new tech update might be just what you're looking for. On Thursday, Facebook announced a new feature called Place Tips that would allow users to find relevant information about their current location. While the feature is currently only available to New York-based users, the company is hoping to expand the availability to other cities if the test phase goes smoothly.
So how does it work? Upon opening your Facebook app, notifications from nearby businesses will jump to the top of your newsfeed; from there, you'll be able to see any photos or videos that your friends have taken in that same establishment, or browse the business' own media and galleries. You'll also have access to any info they've posted on their page, such as menus, pricing, or hours of operation. Your friends won't see if you've clicked on a particular business through Place Tips though, so don't worry about getting a Cronut for the fifth day in a row — no one has to know.
In order to figure out your where you are exactly, Facebook will track your location using a sampling of different technologies, including GPS, Wi-Fi, and cellular networks. They're also breaking out a shiny new tracking method using scattered Bluetooth beacons across the city. In a press release on Thursday, Product Manager Mike LeBeau wrote:
In certain places, we’re also testing place tips using Facebook Bluetooth beacons, which send a signal to your phone that helps us show you the right tips for the right place. We’ll be testing these in a handful of businesses in New York such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dominique Ansel Bakery, Strand Book Store, the burger joint at Le Parker Meridien Hotel, Brooklyn Bowl, Pianos, the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop and Veselka.
While other companies like Yelp, Foursquare, and Google have attempted their own unique versions of "location customized" technology (farewell, Google Glass, forever), Facebook's version might fare better in the long run: by allowing users to tune out the feature when they feel like it, they're more likely to keep it around and turn to it again in those lightbulb "Aha!" moments (e.g. when a friend asks, "I don't know, where do YOU wanna go for dinner?" for the billionth time). And by keeping a relatively low profile in your feed, you're less likely to want to hurl your phone through the nearest window because of annoying app glitches or freezes. That's a win for us all.
If you were searching for a way to interconnect every aspect of your life into your smartphone and have the world at your fingertips — haven't we all dreamed as much? — this new update will be instrumental in allowing you to finally get rid of all the extra apps cluttering up your home screen once and for all.