Facebook rolled out a new feature over the weekend designed to help you make friends with the people around you. The new Find Friends Nearby feature went live first as a mobile web page, but was quickly rolled out to the iOS and Android versions of Facebook's mobile app.
The feature, originally called Friendshake, was developed by the team behind Glancee, an app that helped users connect with the people around them. When Glancee was bought by Facebook, the app's three developers went to work for Facebook and shut down Glancee. Now it looks like Glancee's features have been rolled into Facebook's apps.
Unfortunately, the name "Find Friends Nearby" can be a little misleading at first glance. It sounds an awful lot like a feature Facebook already has - the ability to see who's checked in near you - combined with a feature Apple rolled out with iOS 5 last year - the Find My Friends app. Find Friends Nearby isn't about helping you find the people you're already friends with, though. I guess Facebook figures your smartphone has plenty of options for doing that already (you could even... call them). No, Find My Friends is about making it easier to add new people to your Friends list.
Say you get invited to a party by a friend. While you're there you discover that your friend has pretty good taste in friends, and you'd like to connect with some of the people you've met. Usually that involves having each of them tell you their name (and, if they're anything like me, spell it for you) and sending friend requests one by one. While these new people you've met might be cool, they may not be cool enough to be worth all the hassle. That's where Find Friends Nearby comes in. If you want to add five people, you just have them all go to fb.com/ffn on their phones (you do the same, of course), and it will pull up a list of the people around you. Then you can add as many of them as you want.
As noted above, you can do the same from your iOS or Android device's mobile app. There are a few more steps involved in the process, but the result is basically the same. Go to the Apps section of your menu and tap Find Friends. You should have two options - Find Friends on Your Phone and Other Tools - above a list of people you may know. Tap Other Tools. There you'll see a whole lot of ways to find new friends - your city, your home towm, your workplace, and so on. The last item on the list should be Find Friends Nearby:
Tapping that takes you to basically the same screen you see if you use the mobile website instead. Which means that until Facebook streamlines the feature a little, the only reason to use the mobile app instead of the webpage would be if you're not signed into Facebook on your phone's browser. In that case, navigating through the menus to get to Find Friends Nearby might be more convenient than typing in your password, especially if your password is long and complicated.
While a lot of the apps out there for locating friends or getting in touch with the people around you can seem a little stalker-y, this one is actually pretty handy. The process of adding several new friends at once can be a real pain in the... thumbs. It's nice to see Facebook doing something to make users' lives a little easier.[H/T: TechCrunch]