August 20, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka
Facebook launched its new Places feature because it wanted to give users a chance to discover where their friends are, discover what’s around them, and let others know their location.
Sure, we were already doing that with Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, and other check-in services, but FB brings the built-in user base of 500 million active members, far more than all of those services combined can claim.
Now the question remains, will those 500 million people actually use the new Facebook Places? After not seeing the service available several times I visited touch.facebook.com yesterday, it was finally updated last night.
Here’s a screenshot tour of the way Places performs if you have a compatible browser on your Android phone.
When users visit touch.facebook.com from their browser, there is now a “Places” tab to locate others. You’ll notice that next to the status update, there’s also an icon that goes to Places when checked. You will receive a notification saying that Facebook requests to pinpoint your location. Accept in order for this to be accurate.
Places will then let you share where you are and tell you which of your friends have checked in.
Places will return a list of nearby locations and allow you to check-in. The app lets users Add to the directory or search for a location. As such, some locations may be listed multiple times.
Checking in is fairly easy. Just click the “Share where you are” link and then add your comment (optional). Press “Check In” to complete. You can also get information on the venue or “Like” it.
Though I’m really not a fan of this feature, you can Tag friends and check them in to the location as well. Scroll through names or search. You can prevent your friends from checking you in by clicking Account > Privacy Settings from the desktop version of the site. Then click Customize settings and scroll down to “Friends can check me in to Places” to disable it.
While you’re in Privacy Settings, you may also choose to remove yourself from the “Include me in ‘People Here Now’ after I check in” option. Otherwise, you’ll appear in that section after checking-in.
If you spot your friend’s check-in to Denny’s and decide to head over, you can leave a comment/like. You can also click info to learn about the venue or click the Map icon to get directions. A prompt will ask to open directions in the browser, Google Maps, or your preferred navigation app.
The next time you return to Places, it will show your latest Check-in and give you the option to check-in to a new location. These features will eventually be fully-integrated into the Facebook for Android app, but for now, you can access them at the mobile site.