When Facebook launched Places, their entry into the location space, the headlines made it seem as if every startup player in the field was about to go extinct. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Instead, the playing field has largely stayed the same — though slowly, but surely, those startups are now integrating with Facebook Places in order to get access to Facebook’s massive social graph. The latest is Loopt, and they’re going deep.
With a lot of these location startups, you check-in and you can push that check-in to Facebook. This technically checks you in to Facebook Places as well, but what it really does is create a new object for the place you’re at on the other service within Facebook’s graph. With Loopt’s new integration, you’ll check-in to a place and it will find that place on Facebook Places, and check you in there.
“As far as I can tell, this will be the deepest integration yet,” founder Sam Altman tells us. “I think this is key to a unified data set and all the good things that come with that,” he continues.
I agree with that. Right now, while it’s nice to see a lot of companies working with Facebook’s data to unify things a bit, it’s not true unification since all these random place objects are being created. Foursquare and Gowalla are two example of location startups doing this. On one hand, you can certainly see why — they want to keep their location graphs, which they’ve worked hard to build, intact. But on the other hand, the data is a lot less useful.
This new Facebook Places integration is a part of the latest iPhone update for Loopt. In it, you’ll also be able to see all of your Facebook and Loopt friends on a map at the same time. And you’ll be able to see past check-ins to Facebook Places from within Loopt — including Facebook comments on those check-ins.
All of this should be coming to the Android version short as well, Altman says.