Facebook’s new ‘Nearby Friends’ feature aims to help users connect in real life

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Facebook is rolling out a “Nearby Friends” feature to its mobile app, aiming to help users get together with people they know. When two friends who both have the feature enabled come into range with one another, they’ll get a push notification that says they’re in the area.

Don’t worry, it’s optional, and opt-in. The feature was announced by the social network this morning.

nearby-friends-press-1Users will be able to turn on the function by going into the “More” tab in Facebook’s iPhone and Android app, and switching on the Nearby Friends setting. Users will be able to control who sees that they’re nearby, whether that’s their friends, their close friends, or another list of friends. That way, it’s possible for users to connect with their whole group of Facebook friends while out at a major event, but keep their day-to-day location known to only a select few.

To see each other using the Nearby Friends feature, both users must share their location with one another, so it’s difficult to asymmetrically stalk friends. The feature is also only open to Facebook users who are over 18.

Unlike other location tracking apps like Glympse, Nearby Friends doesn’t default to showing a pin on a map with a user’s exact location. Instead, users are listed by neighborhood by default. People interested in meeting up in a particular location can choose to share their exact location with a select group of friends for a short period of time, similar to Glympse’s app.

The new feature is a result of Facebook’s 2012 acquisition of Glancee, a location-based discovery app that was designed to help users meet new people around them and discover new places.

The Nearby Friends feature isn’t released just yet: Facebook says that it’s going to be rolling it out to users over the course of the next few weeks.

Here’s a video that shows how it works: