updated 08:50 pm EDT, Wed August 18, 2010
Facebook Places arrives with mobile apps
(Update: app is now live) Facebook today launched Facebook Places, its own equivalent to location check-in services such as Foursquare. The service both provides a way of marking both immediate presence but also adds a more social component. Visitors can post status updates that stay after they leave and tag friends who are in the area, even if they don't have a device that can check in.
The company is keenly aware of privacy issues and lets users opt out posting their location outside of someone else's wall. It defaults only to friends and can be tuned higher or lower depending on preferences. Participants can also remove themselves from tags either one time or permanently. Locations can be flagged for a change or even in case of abuse.
Places won't be locked into the site or to native apps. A read-only API will be available on Thursday to let developers integrate it into their own apps. Foursquare and Gowalla are teaming up with Facebook and will give the option of checking in with Facebook at the same time as the regular check-in, including badges. Yelp is also signing on for its newer check-in system, as is MyTown creator Booyah with a new mobile app.
Reward systems for stores won't be in place at first, but might come later.
The location feature will be available both through the touch-friendly site as well as the iPhone app, whose update goes live tonight. Facebook plans support for Android, BlackBerry and other platforms, although other companies' apps will recognize Places on non-Apple operating systems from the start.
Update: The iPhone update is now available (free, App Store). Besides Places, it adds background uploading of photos and videos in iOS 4 and lets members set the privacy level of individual status updates.