May 20, 2013
Facebook readies new phone app to find people near you
By Adrian Bono
Ready to take your Facebook experience to a whole new level? Prepare yourself for the new app that will certainly once again revolutionize how you use one of the most popular social networks.
Introducing “Find Friends Nearby,” a soon-to-be-released Facebook application for your smartphone that, as its name suggests, lets you find people near you by making use of geolocation.
The word “friend,” however, is a little misleading, since most of the people you will be finding around you will most certainly not be your friends, but rather random Facebook users who are also logged into the new app.
According to news site TechCrunch, for now, users who want to give it a go “have to be logged into Facebook on their phone and also into a new feature called the Friendshake. Then others who are near can pick each other up. You can see both your own friends, as well as those you may not know. It also looks like for now the main purpose is to quickly add people who you meet at a specific event — like a hackathon, or a bar.”
The news shouldn’t come as a surprise since it was only last month that Facebook announced the acquisition of Glancee, a location-based discovery app that tried to help users connect with each other according to their interests.
According to TechCrunch, a beta version of Find Friends Nearby is already available by visiting http://fb.com/ffn on your smartphone.
The good news is that despite Facebook’s much-reviled policy of applying changes to how their system works without a friendly warning, this time there is no apparent reason to be paranoid since according to reports you need to opt in to use the service in order for other people to find you.
Ryan Patterson, who created the app, told TechCrunch that for him, 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.”
But don’t let Mr. Patterson’s apparent naïveté fool you. As Facebook continues to expand over the mobile universe – it recently launched the Camera app, which lets you snap a photo and add filters to it before uploading it to your profile – this new app is certain to soon find a demographic eager to run into random people for friendship or potential romance.
And this model has already proven to be highly successful with popular apps such as Sonar.me, Grindr or OKCupid, which help users who share similar interests find each other based on their physical proximity.
So now you know. Do you like your new neighbour upstairs but lack the courage to go ask his name face to face? Would you like to check the Facebook profile of that girl sitting next to you at the coffee store?
Well, very soon, there will be an app for that.
And it may or may not be creepy. It all depends on how you use it.