Facebook gives Open Graph apps option to add friends, location to posts

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By Brittany Darwell

Facebook today announced developers can build Open Graph applications that let users tag their friends and add locations to actions they take from the app.

For example, Hulu could enable users to indicate whether they are watching a show with a friend or Spotify could give users the option to share where they are when they listen to a song. This will create richer Timeline stories and build more complex connections between people, places and actions.

Facebook is also changing its API to let Open Graph apps publish large user-generated photos and video that will play directly in News Feed and Timeline. This addresses an issue we wrote about previously when developers had to make tradeoffs depending which API they used.

Together these changes give Open Graph applications the ability to publish stories equal to those made from Facebook’s own publisher — the box on the homepage and profiles from which users can create posts. The additions are likely to increase the reach of app stories. For example, mobile app Foodspotting could integrate the new features so users can take a photo of a dish they like, then tag the restaurant they’re at and friends they’re with. The photo will show full size on their Timeline and that of their friends. It will also appear in News Feed and on the Timeline map feature for everyone who approves the tag. Travel site Wipolo seems to be the first to have the friend-tagging feature live.

Also with the latest API update, developers can pull posts based on location. This means websites or apps can personalize a user’s experience if the user has a connection to a place. Previously, apps could determine whether a user or friends checked into a place, but not if they added location to an album or status update. This creates interesting possibilities for travel sites or businesses to display friends’ photos, posts and other Open Graph activity associated with a place.

[Update 3/7/12 5:20 p.m. PT - Hat tip to Josh Constine for pointing out this also means location-based services can import check-ins from other apps into their own, creating opportunities for discovery apps like Highlight and Glancee to incorporate more data about people nearby.]