Facebook’s Product Manager, Andrea Vaccari, announced today the beginning of a roll out of an optional new feature to help users find friends that are nearby.
The new feature, appropriately called Nearby Friends, will notify you when friends are nearby so you can get in touch with them. Nearby Friends can be turned on or off. There is no obligation to use it, but if it’s turned on you can also choose which of your groups of friends can see if you’re nearby.
Sharing your location with nearby friends requires them to have the feature turned on, and vice versa. If there’s a friend nearby you want to meet up with you can share your precise location for a set period of time, like if you’re going to be somewhere for the next hour. When you share your precise location, the friend will see on a map exactly where you are which helps you find each other.
With Nearby Friends turned on you will also be able to see when your friends are traveling. You’ll be able to see the city or neighborhood they are in if they’re sharing their location information with you as well.
According to Facebook’s product manager, the idea behind Nearby Friends is to get people to spend more time with each other in the real world, as opposed to online. Their hope is to encourage more spontaneous meet ups with friends by knowing who’s around you.
Here’s a brief video about how Nearby Friends works:
Nearby Friends will be available on Android and iPhone in the US over the coming weeks.