Facebook Places Launches in the UK
Facebook Places launched in the UK last week, making the UK the first place in Europe to receive the service, which has already been launched in America and Japan. This new feature lets users "check-in" to real-world venues using their smartphones, and share their location with their friends on Facebook.
Places is Facebook's entry into location-based social networking, which was already being offered by services such as Foursquare and Gowalla. Similarly to those services users can check in at real-world venues, and also leave comments on each venue for future users to read, for example if the venue is a restaurant customers can recommend a particularly good dish that they had tried. The service also allows business owners to "claim" their venue, and then run adverts for their company on Places. At present Places does not offer any of the gaming aspects of location based networking currently offered by competing services such as Foursquare, Gowalla and SCVNGR, however Places major advantage over these services is its access to Facebook's 500 million registered users, with over 150 million of those users accessing Facebook regularly through their mobile phones. It must also be remembered that Places is a very new service, and many predict that in the future we will see features similar to those currently offered by competing services available of Places.
Foursquare 2.0 launches on the iPhone
Before the launch of Facebook Places Foursquare was the service of choice for most users of location based networking, however the launch of a competing service from a company as big as Facebook seriously threatened the future of Foursquare. Despite these concerns Foursquare has shown impressive post-Places growth, and recently announced a series of new features to help them continue to attract new users.
Foursquare announced yesterday that iPhone users would be able to download Foursquare 2.0, which has remodelled "Tips" and "To-Do" features. The new "tips" section will make comments left by users more prominent on a venue's Foursquare page, and tips will now be ranked by popularity. The new tips section will also highlight comments left by user's friends at each venue. The new "To-Do" feature is launched along with an embeddable "Add to my Foursquare" button for websites that has already been adopted by the New York Times and Time Out New York. The idea is that users can read about something that they are interested in on the web, and then easily add it to their Foursquare to-do list. Foursquare will then visually alert you to nearby saved "to-dos" as well as providing a service where you can keep a list of all the places that you want to visit. At present these new features are only available to iPhone users, but they are due to be available to BlackBerry and Android users soon.
The "Facebookification" of Twitter
Twitter have also announced a series of new features that are going to be made available to both users and advertisers, which will make the site much more interactive. Previously on Twitter if a user wished to share a video or picture with their followers they had to provide a link which would take those who clicked it to an external website. However, the new features announced by Twitter make it possible for all photo and video content to be viewed on the main Twitter page. The right hand pane of Twitter has been modified to provide an expanded look at whatever the user has selected. When a user selects a tweet which contains a photo or video, that content will now be viewable in the right pane. The right pane will now also display the bio of the user who "tweeted" the selected tweet, as well as a list of the users who have re-tweeted the original tweet. This revamp of the service makes the site much more interactive for users, but also makes the appeal of Twitter much more obvious to marketers and brands looking to advertise on the service.