We’re at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, where the social network is finally unveiling its much-anticipated location feature, which will be called Places. We’ve already published the first screenshots of the new feature, but we’re about to get the full rundown on how it works and who Facebook is partnering with. The company has invited dozens of press to the event (it even shuttled some of them down from San Francisco), and it’s clear that it’s treating this as a very big deal.
I’m liveblogging my notes from the event below.
pic of zuck
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has taken the stage. Whenever we build something new we want to show to a bunch of people, we have a tradition of launch nights. The idea is to have everyone from the community come together, including people who want to write about, analyze, where we talk about the new things we’re doing.
“This will be a fun and interesting summer, we have a lot of new products coming out.” Today the thing we’re talking about isa new “Places” product we’ve been working on for a few months… a while. (people giggle — “I guess it’s been a little bit more than a few”.
We knew it was ready to go. I was out to dinner with my girlfriend in Menlo Park which I never go to. I’m showing her the product. She goes, hey Chris Cox and his fiance are at the restaurant right next to us. Isn’t that awesome?” It was at that moment, this serendipitous moment that we knew the product was ready to go.
Three purposes for this: Help you share where you are. Help you see who’s around you. And see what’s going on nearby.
Showing video of the feature. Shows it off on the iPhone app. The video feels a lot like something Apple would produce, showing friends chatting together with cuts to engineers talking about the product.
Michael Sharon, the product manager for Places, has taken the stage.
Getting started: launching it on touch.facebook.com and in a brand new iPhone app being released later tonight. A new icon will appear on the homesreen. Open it, and it will show you a list of friends, including those who are nearby. Looks a lot like Foursquare. As soon as you check in you’ll see a list of places around you. You can search for nearby locations. If they aren’t there, you can hit the ‘+’ symbol to add a place.
To add a place you type in a name and description.
ON a place page you have a recent activity section (a News Feed for that place). On the web, there are a number of different section. Far right has a cluster o profile images so you can see friends who have visited. Places is not about broadcasting your location to the world, it’s about sharing where you are with friends.
Tap Checkin button. You’ll see a preview of the story at the top, with a notice of what will happen (and a link to find out what’s going on). Once you agree, creates a new story on the Place page.
Here now lets you see friends and other people who may be checked in at the same place.
Photos is one of most popular peroducts on FB.
Can tag people in photos and status updates (use the @ symbol). Creates a story on their wall and on my wall. Everybody on FB is familiar with tagging in photos and status updates.
Tag friends with you as your’e checking in — you’ll see a list. It creates a story.
‘Why tagging’. Not everyone has an advanced phone, but people want to be part of it. Tagging is a way for us to connect that with everyone Facebook (so you just have to be friends with someone with an advanced phone is what they’re getting at).
When you hit “Allow”. It’s as if you checked in there yourself. Will show up on Wall, Recent Acitvity on Place page, and (one more).
If you click “Not Now” _ Shows up on firend’s wall and recent activity. But not on your profile. You don’t appear in the here now.
Default checkin to be visible to friends only. :Can dial it down and restrict to a few specific people. Can remove any checkin from your phone or on the web.
In the here now section, only there after you agree to an opt in.
Tagging: You can only tag your friends. You can only tag your friends while you are checking in (if you want to check in a friend at a sleazy bar you have to check yourself in there). You’re notified whenever you’re tagged. You can always remove any tag.
You can opt out of having friends tag you at all. Can just hit ‘Disabled’
Read API available tomorrow. Write and Search API in closed beta. http://developers.facebook.com/docs/api/#places
Partners coming on stage.
Scott Raymond – CTO and cofounder of Gowalla.
Gowalla has a “continued commitment to Facebook”. UI/UX remains the same, stamps and photos inline. When you publish something you choose if you want to post to FB or not.
Holger Luedorf – VP Mobile and Partnerships from Foursquare.
“I think it’s a great thing for the industry. This validates that we’re on to something. This will be a much bigger thing going forward.” “I think there’s different reasons people use foursquare. Gaming element is one of them. Points/badges drove a lot of early engagement. Familiarized people with checkin. Have to keep in mind checkin is at the core of this. At foursquare we’re going to continue innovating and making it a better user experience.” Will have add to foursquare which lets you add information from websites to foursquare system and when you’re nearby you get reminded about it. With regard to Facebook API, looking forward to seeing how we’ll leverage that.” This was a bit odd — came off as a big promo for Foursquare with 20-30 seconds about Facebook.
Yelp has taken stage. Excited to use Facebook API. Our integration is straightforward, can share with just yelp or of course can share to Facebook. We’ll publish that, shows photo of business. Soon we’ll be launching something where you can read FB checkin into our Yelp mobile application.
Booyah CEO on stage. New product called InCrowd. In three weeks we’ve put out client app on iPhone, full Facebook places integration. Can read nearby listings from FB. Can write Checkins to feed. Can search. Has Graph API integration as well.
Facebook VP Product Chris Cox on stage. Ray Oldenburg sociologist talked about this. His take: there are three places that matter. Home, workplace, and the ‘third place’, which is bar, library etc. Where random run-ins happen. Made observation that tech was in danger of destroying the third place as people sit at home… Where is this headed? Maybe one day you go to a bar.
Put your magical ten years into the future phone down. Suddenly it starts to glow and says hey this is what you might order here, this is what your friends drink. Shows photos of what your friends did here. Physical reality we’re in comes alive with stories we’ve told there.
Q: If someone creates a place at my house what control do I have over that.
A: We have visibility rules so if you create a place it will only be visible to you and your friends but if enough people check in then we say it’s something a lot of people are interested in and make it public.
You can imagine world of things that can be built. Photo tag with location etc. (dodged question on monetization)
Rolling out in US first. Won’t have full coverage of all 500 million people using FB immediately. If you’re not in US can still see posts from friends who are using it in the US.
Blackberry/Android. Right now we do have plans to add to all applications that would be able to support it (no timeline). At launch I showed you eample of web version of Place page. If it’s your business can click link at bottom of page and claim that page of your own. It becomes a business page.
This was a skunkworks thing internally. It was around Dec last year that the team came together around this specific vision. One of main things team had to figure out — what is a good set of features/product that’s different from what everyone else has built?
Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 1 billion monthly active users. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 weeks, half of the schools in the Boston area began demanding a Facebook network. Zuckerberg immediately recruited his friends Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes, and Eduardo Saverin to help build Facebook, and within four months, Facebook added 30 more college networks. The original...