Breaking at an unfeasibly early hour this morning is the hot news that Facebook is launching its long-rumoured location-aware, check-in product, called Places.
The new service sees Facebook partnering with Gowalla and Foursquare, with representatives from the two rival services taking the stage at a special event at Palo Alto, California at 2am UK time.
Tagging and check ins
The new service makes it be possible to tag friends with you while checking in to locations and see if any of your chums are in the same venue. Your friends will also be able to tag you and update the information on their Facebook profiles.
And if you’re the kind of person who wants the world to know where you are, Places will oblige by automatically checking you in and creating a Facebook news feed story displaying your location.
However, Facebook was keen to bring up the privacy ramifications of the service, adding that you can only tag people who are your friends when you check-in and, by default, your check-ins will only be visible to people you’re friends with (although there is an option to make this available to all).
Happily, you can elect to completely opt-out of having your friends tag you in their location updates.
APIs opened up
Facebook also has opened up API access to Places, and there’s been a fair stampede of services keen to get involved.
These include Gowalla, Yelp and Foursquare, all of whom will be able to leverage Facebook’s new Places API to let users check-in and publish the data to their Facebook feed, with all aqcuired badges and pins transferring over as well.
iPhone app released
The Facebook Places functionality should be available for iPhone users courtesy of an app update coming now, with the new features also appearing in Facebook’s mobile touch website for advanced mobile devices.