Tuesday 5 February 2013

Facebook developing a location tracking friend-finder app

Facebook will now know everywhere you go. The social networking giant that celebrated its ninth birthday yesterday is reportedly building its own mobile location tracker, reports Bloomberg.

Trying to benefit from the growing number of smartphone users, Facebook is developing a whole new app for tracking purposes. Currently, Facebook does work with locations, but only through check-ins and geo-tagged posts. With this new app Facebook will try to help users locate friends nearby while their location is tracked in the background.

According to sources that are working closely with its development, the entirely new app is slated to be released sometime in mid-March and is designed to run in the background even when it isn’t open on the handset. Reports suggest that the app in essence will be quite similar to Google Latitude, Apple Find My Friends and similar services.

The location software is said to be headed by Peter Deng, a product director who joined over from Google in 2007 according to a source. The team also consists of engineers from Glancee, a location tracking startup and Gowalla, a location tracking social network that were bought over by Facebook in the past couple of years.

Facebook had attempted to launch a feature in a similar vein in June last year. Very quietly, the social networking website had launched the ‘Find Friends Nearby’ service that did exactly what the name suggests. The service that used GPS to locate users and inform their friends about their whereabouts was slammed by users and critics alike for being ‘creepy’ and ‘stalker like’.

Just as quietly as it was launched, it was taken off by Facebook that was stung by the severe backlash it generated. Facebook explained the pull out of the service stating that the feature was under test and it wasn’t a formal release. The company said that the feature was just something that the engineers were testing. "With all tests, some get released as full products, others don’t. Nothing more to say on this for now, but we’ll communicate to everyone when there is something to say,” read the official statement.

Now it looks like Facebook learnt some lessons from the service test and is set to package old wine in a new bottle for users who have been lapping up Facebook’s latest mobile offerings like Poke and newer features in the Messenger app.

Late in January this year, Facebook announced in its Q4 earnings call that for the first time ever Facebook Mobile’s Daily Active Users exceeded those on the desktop version of the website. CEO Mark Zuckerberg highlighted the surge in mobile users, saying, “There’s no argument, Facebook is a mobile company.” He also referenced a comScore report to prove that Facebook is the top app in the US, beating Google Maps, and accounts for 23 percent of total time spent on mobile apps in the country.

It only makes sense now for Facebook to take mobile development ahead at a great speed. There is no doubt about the fact that Facebook and smartphones are two things that most of the modern world feels incomplete without. Facebook can now cash-in on this this new mobile tracking app.

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