Facebook’s Place Tips Feature Puts Foursquare In A Tight Position
Facebook’s success is partly due to its ability to catch onto the latest trends, or simply adopting other companies’ features. It jumped onto the hashtag bandwagon when it trended on Twitter and other platforms, and has now invaded yet another territory, owned by Yelp and Foursquare – letting users know where they are in real time.
The opt-out feature has been rolled out for Facebook’s iPhone app so far, and is known as Place Tips, which will show at the top of the News Feed. It is designed to show “a series of cards with info about the place you’re at,” Facebook said. “If you choose to view Place Tips, you’ll find things like posts and photos your friends have shared with you about that place.”
So to make sure its tips are accurate geographically, Facebook will be playing with Bluetooth beacons – small pieces of hardware that send out signals to a phone when it detects one nearby. Initially, these beacons will operate for a small number of businesses only in New York, like a bakery (Dominique Ansel Bakery), a bookstore and restaurants.
It is pretty clear that Facebook knows the importance of accumulating and analyzing data about restaurants, shops and other businesses, as showing relevant information about the place to the users present there can result in gauging huge amounts of revenues. Facebook didn’t say what kind of financial relationship it has with the businesses it will highlight with the tips.
However, for those suspicious about geo-tagging and external interference with their phones, the tips will only appear if users have granted permission to Facebook to access their location. For those willing to opt out, you will have to go into your iPhone settings to turn the feature off.
Apart from the hardware beacons, Facebook will also generate geo specific tips by determining users’ locations via conventional methods like cellular networks, Wi-Fi and GPS. The company is going to use these signals in the upcoming weeks in the following locations: New York’s Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, and JFK Airport.
Facebook plans to expand the Place Tips application all around the world eventually by installing beacons, but no time period has been disclosed yet..
Place tips is a win-win situation for both Facebook and the businesses installed with the beacons. A spokesperson at Dominique Ansel Bakery said, “We are always happy to work with innovative companies, like Facebook. And since Place Tips offers more information to our guests, we saw it as an added customer service. At the end of the day, both us and the customer can turn it off and on depending on feedback and so we saw no harm in giving them an option to interact with us.”