Today at its mobile event, Facebook has just announced that it’s opening up its Write API and Search API to Facebook Places, in addition to the Read API that launched earlier this year.
So what does that mean? Facebook first launched its location APIs at its Places event in August, but it was split into two main sets of functionality: Read and Write access. Most developers only had access to the former — with a user’s permission, a third-party app could pull in Places data from Facebook. But only a handful of large partners had access to the Write functionality, which lets a user syndicate updates the other direction (for example, a check-in on SCVNGR also updates your Facebook Places status).
Now everyone has access to that feature — any app can use the API to write to Facebook Places.
The other big news revolves around Search. Facebook is given developers access to its database of venues — the developer sends in the coordinate, and Facebook gives back a list of nearby locations. And these aren’t based exclusively by proximity — the list will be ordered based on the relevance to the user.
This database will be competing with Google’s Places API, as well as other sources of location data like SimpleGeo. It isn’t a purely benevolent move, either — Facebook will be able to further improve its database as more people check in.