Facebook’s web and mobile apps have a new feature called “Find Friends Nearby” that, as the name suggests, lets you find friends and potential friends based on their proximity to your current location.
The feature, although not meant to be officially released, is live on Facebook’s website and mobile apps. Word about the feature’s existence was leaked out to TechCrunch.
In its present, rudimentary form, the feature is simply is URL on Facebook’s site (http://fb.com/ffn). For people to appear on the list, they’ll need to have the URL open, and allow it to access the device’s location. The moment they close the page, location tracking is stopped.
The feature was born at a hackathon as “Friendshake,” as Facebook engineer Ryan Patterson details in TechCrunch’s comments:
I built Find Friends Nearby with another engineer for a hackathon project. While it was originally called ‘Friendshake’, we settled on ‘Find Friends Nearby’ for launch (the URL was a little bit of a homage to the previous iteration).
For me, the ideal use case for this product is the one where when you’re out with a group of people whom you’ve recently met and want to stay in contact with. Facebook search might be effective, or sharing your vanity addresses or business cards, but this tool provides a really easy way to exchange contact information with multiple people with minimal friction.
The feature is a work in progress, and presently exists as a simple web page. Even the integration into the iOS app opens up the same web page, just inside Facebook’s app. You can navigate to the “Find My Friends” feature in the iOS app by tapping the menu button at the top-left and then navigating to Apps > Find Friends > Other Tools > Find Friends Nearby.
There’s a very small chance you might actually find your friends through this page, as the feature is not only difficult to find, it will only show people who are nearby and have the page open. But Facebook could eventually integrate this into its iOS app taking advantage of the background location API.
So what do you think of the feature? Let us know in the comments.