Facebook checks in with Places iPhone app

Aug 19, 2010
Finance

The biggest social network can now broadcast where you are. Is that smart? Also in today’s App Industry Report, we offer the best reason ever to own a smartphone. Facebook’s mobile location tool Facebook has entered the check-in business, using a Foursquare-like approach to telling your Facebook friends where you are — and who you are […]

The biggest social network can now broadcast where you are. Is that smart? Also in today’s App Industry Report, we offer the best reason ever to own a smartphone.

Facebook’s mobile location tool

Facebook has entered the check-in business, using a Foursquare-like approach to telling your Facebook friends where you are — and who you are with. You can also find out if other friends are at the same place or nearby. Facebook details how the app works, including how to manage your settings for privacy, in its official post on the product, called Places.

To get Places, you need to update your Facebook iPhone app. It will work on other mobile phones if the browser supports HTML 5 and geolocation.

The question is, do you want Places? I suspect it will be a popular tool for the uber-social set, but one the rest of us should be leery about. The reason is obvious: do you really want all your Facebook “friends” to know where you are? Our Facebook profiles are filled with old friends, old flames and probably quite a few oddballs who would love to know what we are doing at any given point.

Yes, you can manage your settings, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to get the right mix of intended people. Or, what if you allow a friend to broadcast that you are with him or her, and that friend remains a pal of your ex, someone you have blocked? It’s not hard to imagine that ex “coincidentally” showing up at a bar where you just happen to be.

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Check-in apps based on your location are becoming all the rage these days. Even retailers are getting into the game with an app called ShopKick. (We provided details on ShopKick earlier this week.) In announcing Facebook’s Places tool, Foursquare and Gowalla were present. Facebook clearly is borrowing ideas from those location innovators, yet it’s unclear how friendly the companies will be as location competition heats up.

In a VentureBeat piece, Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley said he isn’t worried about the new competition, believing that Facebook will help teach people about location and checking in, which should make Foursquare more popular. “If Facebook thinks that location is a good idea, then we are on to something,” he said.

And they know where you are. If you think that’s a good idea, sign up. Personally, I don’t.

A haiku for your iPhone

Of all the reasons I’ve read about why someone should own a smartphone, this may be the most memorable:

“Smartphones are arguably the best thing to hit poetry since the printing press,” writes Bob Tedeschi in Thursday’s App Smart column in the New York Times, “as even the most casual lovers of verse can read a poem whenever the spirit moves them, not just when they are in the vicinity of a book or computer.”

Right. That’s why I got mine. Obvious mocking aside (sorry poetry people), Tedeschi makes a good point about why reading a “snippet of e.e. cummings”  on a smartphone is better than tackling “War and Peace:” it’s a whole lot easier on the eyes.

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Poetry, he points out, is alive and well in app land. Here are some suggestions if you’d like a little verse to start your day.

  • For all the Bard’s wisdom and works, try the free Shakespeare app.
  • Poetry, from the Poetry Foundation, “is a slot machine of verse,” Tedeschi writes, “hit the Spin button, and themes like joy, passion, frustration and nostalgia race across the screen before the app settles on two.”
  • For wanna-be poets, Instant Poetry HD “is similar to the popular magnetic poetry kits that covered refrigerator doors in the last decade,” Tedeschi offers.
  • And if you must share with social peeps on Twitter or Facebook how erudite and intelligent you are, try Frostisms. It’s an Android app that spits out Robert Frost quotes to your social network.
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Eric Benderoff

Eric Benderoff is the principal of BendableMedia.com, an editorial services firm, and a founding member of the Appolicious content strategy team. His personal technology column for the Chicago Tribune has appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide. He is a regular guest on Chicago's WGN Radio and is a frequent commentator about consumer technology on national TV news programs.

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