If reports are correct, Facebook is currently hard at work building its own standalone location tracking app that will be able to tell your friends when you’re nearby and vice versa.
Bloomberg quotes multiple people “familiar with the matter,” who say that Facebook’s new application could launch some time in mid-March. They say that the app would be “designed to help users find nearby friends and would run even when the program isn’t open on a handset.”
Of course, this sounds like Facebook is building a competitor to services like Apple’s Find My Friends, Banjo, and even Foursquare a some degree. The big thing is that it would run passively, not requiring any sort of checking-in.
Facebook already collects your location, both actively and passively. Once you allow the Facebook app to use your current location, Facebook knows exactly where you are. That’s how you’re able to tag a location to any status update you post, or easily find a location to check-in to. It’s how Facebook turned their Nearby feature into an actual location recommendation tool.
And a standalone location tracking app would seemingly combine Facebook’s Nearby feature with Facebook Places.
Of course, the inherent advantage that Facebook has when launching any sort of app is that giant trove of information. Whereas some location-based apps force you to build your contact base from the ground up, Facebook could launch a location tracking app that’s already stocked with your friends.
Bloomberg reports that the team currently working on the location tracking app includes engineers from acquisitions like Glancee and Gowalla. It’s apparently being helmed by former Googler Peter Deng.
Facebook clearly wants to be the service you use for connecting with friends on the go and finding stuff to do. With the launch of Nearby and the possible launch of an app that passively monitors friends’ locations, Facebook may be able to use its superior info graph to make a splash in the location arena.