As expected, Facebook today launched their new Places feature on touch.facebook.com and in their iPhone app. With it, you’ll be able to check in to places, tag yourself with your friends and share what you’re doing there. You’ll get push notifications if you have friends nearby and be able to see who else is checked in with you. Checkins will also show up in your friends’ Facebook news feeds. In almost every respect, it’s foursquare minus the gaming elements.
Facebook, of course, rolled out partners to show they’re not trying to crush the companies that came before them. Gowalla and Yelp spoke of their upcoming integrations that will be launched soon. Foursquare, on the other hand, spoke of ways their product will differentiate itself from Facebook’s with the coming foursquare 2.0. Their integration with Facebook was almost an afterthought, left to Vice President of Mobile and Partnerships Holger Luedorf’s final sentence on stage. It appeared as though foursquare was behind the eight ball compared to Gowalla and Yelp, with Luedorf suggesting they’re interested in finding ways to integrate foursquare with Facebook Places and not mentioning any concrete plans.
Will Facebook Places be a foursquare killer? In short, no. Foursquare will continue to differentiate themselves with their gaming elements. They know that users have tired of badges, points and mayorships, so they’ve been working on foursquare 2.0 for months. It will take the game to a whole new level. All that will integrate directly with Facebook Places in a “richer way” than they currently do.
Facebook Places brings the idea of checkins to the mainstream, which helps apps like foursquare and Gowalla, who’ve been struggling to introduce location sharing to larger audiences. They will be using Facebook to help them grow, as their gaming elements appear across the Facebook ecosystem and users become more comfortable with “checking in.”
It will be interesting to see how foursquare integrates with Facebook Places. What do you think of Facebook Places? How do you think it will impact foursquare?
Here’s a video from Facebook about the new Places feature:
UPDATE (8/19): And now we know why foursquare didn’t have anything to announce: they weren’t given advance access to the Facebook Places API. It’s also unclear if they knew Gowalla, Booyah and Yelp had been given access and were planning to announce their integrations.