Facebook Spruces Up Mobile Platform with Location-Based-Services

Facebook today rolled out some intriguing new features for its mobile platform designed to make it easier for its 500 million-plus users to easily access information and share their experiences from their smartphones.

The announcements came during the company's special mobile event presentation at its Palo Alto, Calif. headquarters. While there was considerable scuttlebutt and unsubstantiated rumors suggesting Facebook would be unveiling a new branded smartphone of its own, Zuckerberg was quick to set the record straight.

"Um, no," he said to crowd, many of whom were expecting to hear about a new type of Facebook-branded smartphone or mobile device, adding that the company's goal was to "make things social."

"You can rethink any area to be social," he said.

Zuckerberg was quick to point out that Facebook's more than 200 million users have downloaded his company's mobile app for all different mobile OSs and devices, up from 65 million at this time last year.

And to make life simpler for all these mobile users who want to update their status or check on their friends (or enemies) comings and goings, Facebook rolled out a single sign-on tool that lets users bypass the usual hassles and frustrations -- particularly when manipulating the small smartphone keyboards -- of creating and logging into accounts and applications.

The idea is that users will only have to log in once and then they'll be able to use their Facebook credentials for a variety of different apps and services without having to resubmit cumbersome passwords, etc.

The new search API will let Facebook users check the rankings of local establishments not only by their location, but by their importance to a specific user based on Facebook's proprietary relevancy algorithm.

Next, the company announced that it has opened up its location-based Places platform and API to allow users to read, write and search data and crosslink the information on their favorite restaurants or art galleries to other apps like Yelp, Gowalls and Loopt when they check in.

Facebook officials said this feature will allow users to better see where their friends have been, regardless of which location-based app they're using.

Along those lines, the company also rolled out its new Deals platform, a feature that lets local businesses interact with mobile users and offer discounts or targeted advertisements when they're in the area through its Places platform.

You can take all of the interaction and have it be a lot more engaging," Zuckerberg said. "It can grow virally and remake whole industries."

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

TAGS:

Facebook, social networking, mobile, location-based services, Mark Zuckerberg

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