Facebook is rolling out a new feature for its Android and iOS apps called Nearby Friends. It shows you when your Facebook friends are close to your location (and vice versa), so you can meet up with them if you want.
“If you turn on Nearby Friends, you’ll occasionally be notified when friends are nearby, so you can get in touch with them and meet up,” says product manager Andrea Vaccari. “For example, when you’re headed to the movies, Nearby Friends will let you know if friends are nearby so you can see the movie together or meet up afterward.”
Before you start freaking out, note that this is an opt-in feature. Everyone has to turn it on. If you want to use it, and be discoverable with the feature, you need to turn it on, and so do your friends. You actually choose who can see when you’re nearby. You can set it to friends, close friends, or a specific friends list. You can always turn it back off if you want.
A Facebook spokesperson tells us, “A friend qualifies as ‘nearby’ when she is within approximately 1/2 mile from you in any direction.”
You can also set a precise location to share with specific friends for a set period of time, so you can determine where to meet up. It shows your friends exactly where you are on a map.
“When Nearby Friends is on, you can see when your friends are traveling if they’re also using this feature and sharing with you,” says Vaccari. “You’ll be able to see the city or neighborhood they are in, including on their profile. When you see a friend visiting a place you’ve been, it’s the perfect opportunity to send a recommendation for a great restaurant. You can also make last-minute plans to meet up with a friend who happens to be in the same place you’re headed to.”
To use the feature, you’ll tap More, then Nearby Friends, then choose who to share your location with. To share a precise location, you’ll tap the arow to the right of the friend’s name, then select how long you’d like to share the location, and include a note.
You can turn push notifications on and off. More in this FAQ.
The feature is rolling out to U.S. users over the coming weeks.
Facebook already has a Nearby Place feature, which can serve as a location recommendation tool.
Images via Facebook