Facebook is getting a bit cozier, wit a new optional feature to alert you when friends are nearby. The aptly named ‘Nearby Friends’ feature in Facebook’s mobile app will let you know when friends are around, and it’s highly customizable. Best of all, it’s totally optional.
The way it works is simple: you select the friends you want to keep track of, and Facebook will let you know when they’re around. You can choose everyone, a group like ‘Family’, or create a list of people you want to hang out with at any point. Say you have a few pals who live in a certain part of town you frequent — just create a list with them in it, and Facebook’s app will let you know when they’re around at the same time you are.
The app — and location sharing, of course — must be turned on by both parties, so there is no mystery involved here. People won’t track you without your knowledge, and you can’t see people who don’t want to be found. The app will also let you see (on a map) where your tagged folks have been, so you can chat about a recently visited restaurant.
One of the cooler features here is timed sharing, where you can choose to share your location for a certain time. If you’re at a coffee shop and wouldn’t mind hanging out, just share your location for an hour to see if anyone responds. With over 1 billion active mobile users, it shouldn’t be too hard to find someone. The feature is rolling out over the next few weeks to both iOS and Android, so be on the lookout for it.