Facebook tests delivering tips about your location

The test of the location-based service will use Bluetooth beacons in some locations

Facebook's mobile app.
Facebook's mobile app.

Facebook is getting closer to territory occupied by Yelp and Foursquare by testing a new service that will provide users with recommendations about places they are at.

Starting Thursday, some users of Facebook on iPhone in New York will find a new feature, called "Place Tips," at the top of their news feed, which will surface information on the location they are at, as well as posts and photos of the place that friends have shared.

"You can also see information about the place, including posts from its Page, popular menu items and upcoming events," wrote Mike LeBeau, Facebook product manager in a blog post.

Facebook has been increasingly introducing services that are designed around the user's location, including a Nearby Friends feature it launched last year that allows users to spot friends in their vicinity.

The company is using a combination of cellular networks, Wi-Fi and GPS to determine a person's location for the trial of Place Tips, but in some locations it will also test Bluetooth beacons, provided to businesses, that will send signals to the phone to help locate the user.

Facebook's Place Tips will only show if the social network has been given permission to access the user's location through the phone. Users have the option to turn the feature off. Viewing the Place Tips doesn't post on Facebook or show people the location of the user, the company said.

Facebook said it will be testing the new feature in locations like Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and JFK Airport. The beacons will be tested by a few businesses like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Strand Book Store.

The social network will likely make money through charges or commissions from local business owners that surface on Place Tips. The company did not immediately comment on plans to monetize the service.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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