Facebook Prepares To Release Location Service At f8

According to Nick Bilton of the New York Times, Facebook is aiming to “take the wraps off a new location-based feature in late April at f8”. This confirms details that were first provided by Jessica Vascellaro of the Wall Street Journal earlier this month. Given that location-based services are increasingly the center of attention in the social media space, it’s not surprising that news about Facebook’s new location product has been leaking out recently.

At f8, the company is expected to announced new location-based APIs. At this point the location product will become the center of an immense amount of speculation. Will this service be a complete replacement for Foursquare and Gowalla? The New York Times suggests it won’t. Will it integrate mapping functionality (in which you can view where your friends are on a map)? Will it be launched through the company’s mobile applications?

With more than 100 million mobile users, Facebook is making a hard push in the mobile space and is being forced to quickly eliminate the threat of competitors, who are beginning to gain significant traction. With Facebook having a world class design team, I can only begin to imagine some of the opportunities available to Facebook.

Will their be a gaming aspect to the application (i.e. badges, icons, etc)? In order to avoid the comparisons to big brother (and minority-report like services), Facebook is reportedly making the service opt-in. Aside from knowing that people can share their location and that developers will be able to build on top of the location-based services, there are few other details.

With location-based services expected to be the center of attention at SXSW, which begins this week, it looks as though this year could be the year that location services really take off.

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