Get ready for another wave of social location-based mobile apps. Facebook has just opened new APIs that allow apps on its platform to tag posts with friends and Places, read the location of your old posts, and search for specific posts by coordinates and distance parameters. Additionally, Open Graph apps can now play back video and display big photos in news feed and Timeline.
By allowing apps to tag Places, Facebook can use the location data to show their posts to nearby friends. That means posts from Foodspotting, Gogobot, Path and other apps will be able to inspire serendipitous meetups just like Facebook check-ins. This is a big step towards Facebook becoming a hub of activity stories from around the web rather than just hosting its own content.
The APIs create parity between what apps can publish and users can post through Facebook.com and the Facebook mobile apps. For example, Facebook explains that “an app used to share your favorite meals can now make it possible to add where you ate and who you were with.”
Facebook will be able to collect lots more location-as-a-layer data thanks to the new APIs. This helps it determine where users spend their time, and therefore what local content and ads will be especially relevant to them.
The option to add GeoPoint data will let apps create more interesting aggregated stories on their users’ Timelines. For instance, an app could reference the GeoPoint of your stated place of residence against all your checkins at restaurants around town through its app to give you an average distance you travel to eat.
Friend tagging will be useful for apps like Path that have their own social graphs. They’ll be able to tie their user profiles to Facebook profiles, and make posts syndicated to Facebook appear with Facebook friend tags instead of just a simple text list of names.
Apps will be able to create maps and other data aggregations based on posts from other sources thanks to the new Read capabilities.
Facebook previously had partnerships with Foursquare and several other location-based apps that allowed them to contribute official checkins. By opening this capability to all developers, more innovative apps will emerge, users will have more options of who to publish through, and Facebook will gain valuable data.