Live-Blog: Facebook Launches Places Location Service, Partners with Third Parties

We’re here at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, covering Facebook’s location service launch event. Interest is running high and the room is packed with press, because increasingly specific rumors have been leaking about about Facebook’s plans since last year — and because location intersects with other major trends, from local advertising and group deals, to e-commerce and social games, and more. We hear there are a number of location-based services and other companies on hand, so stay tuned.

Mark Zuckerberg has taken the stage (and you can watch the live stream here).

5:24 Mark Zuckerberg

We build things and when we have a feeling that they’re ready to go, we start rolling them out. Today, the thing we’re going to be talking about is a new Places product that we’ve been working on for a few months… at least testing it for a few months.

The way we knew that it’s near-complete… I was out at dinner with my girlfriend, and she noticed that [another Facebook exec] was at the restaurant nearby. It was that serendipitous moment that we knew it was ready.

Places. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

Three things we’re going to talk about [people doing]:

— Sharing where they are

— Seeing who’s around you

— See what’s going on, discovering new places.

We also have a lot of other launch nights coming this summer.

[Professionally-created video about Places starts playing]

5:29 Michael Sharon, product manager for mobile/Places

[We’re] launching places on, mobile browsers and our brand-new iPhone app we’re releasing later tonight.

Shows your location, your friends nearby location, and other friends further away.

As soon as you check in, you see a collection of places around you, sorted by what we think is most interesting to you. You can search, none might be there, and tap the top button to add a place. Add a name and a description and you’re there…

News feed for each Place. You can comment and Like each Place. [At the] far right of Place web page, Facepile. List of friends who have visited. You can see all friends who have been there. Not about broadcasting to the world, but sharing with your friends.

To check in, you tap on the check in button, what you’ll see is the preview of the story at the top, then a notice, and a link to find out more. Click “agree” to create a new story. There’s another new section. When you go to a bar and look around, you can see a whole bunch of people who are there. Here [it] now lets you see friends and other people who are checked in.

Photos are one of the most popular products. One of the things that makes it so good is tagging. But tagging lets you connect with people in that photo. Just like people know for photos, we also have tagging for status updates. Start typing the @symbol, that creates a story on your wall, and their wall.

Everyone on Facebook now is familiar with that for Photos, we took that to Places, so it’s going to be natural for users. Check in, see a list, tap your friend’s face, and that creates a story.

The story is already natural, it’s as if your friend was at a restaurant nearby eating. Tagging is one of the things that makes this really special. When you’re hanging out with friends, you may want to check in, you’re going to be at the exact same place. We thought it would be great to let you tag, check each other in wherever you go. Why is this important? For starters, we’re making it available in advanced mobile interfaces, but not everybody has an iPhone, or other advanced phone. But they still want to be in the photo and status update.

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