Not so fast, Yelp and Foursquare. The race to become the leading source of online ratings, reviews, and recommendations isn’t over yet.
In a move that poses new threat to online reviews aggregator Yelp and location-based check-in and discovery service Foursquare, Facebook is updating the “Nearby” feature on both its Apple iOS and Android Facebook apps. Facebook “Nearby” – a location-based feature – will now display recommendations from Facebook friends about local businesses or places to visit, and it will also use a new five-star rating system to help users find places to rate, recommend, review, and check into. This system (a kind of social ratings aggregator) is designed to become more personalized as more users share more info, ratings, and check-ins.
The business listings currently on Facebook will now display friends who have checked into the given business, as well as rating options, contact info, “Like” option, and a map. Facebook’s mobile application will also have updated mapping tools to enhance the visualization of local business information.
Facebook currently has over 1 billion members. According to Facebook “Nearby” product manager Josh Williams, close to 250 million of these use check-in features to tag locations every month.
“Lots of useful information was being shared, but not in the context you’d like,” said Williams. “The visualization of the information is what’s dramatically improved. So instead of a plain list, the new tab will pull up a map based on where you are, (plus) a list of places that are around you that we think are the most interesting, based on where your friends have been, or their recommendations.”
Williams happens to be the founder of what was formerly known as Gowalla, a location-based social network that once served as a smaller rival of Foursquare. Facebook acquired Gowalla in December 2011, along with its database of check-ins, photos, lists, and local business information.