Facebook rolled out a new feature for its Messenger app on Monday (March 27) that enables users to share their locations for up to an hour.
According to a report in Reuters, the location would be updated continuously for as long as an hour. The new feature is seen as a way to compete with Apple tools and Google Maps. Facebook discovered that one of the phrases most often used on Messenger is “How far away are you?” Stan Chudnovsky, head of product for Messenger, said in an interview with Reuters. “It happens to be what people are saying, what they’re interested in the most,” he said.
Since the GPS information is live, users can share information with a friend, and that friend can follow the user’s movements for as long as an hour. Last week Google said it was offering a similar live feature as a way to increase engagement on Google Maps. The fact that Facebook and Google rolled out their new features so close to each other shows both companies are “working on the right things,” Chudnovsky said in the interview. The executive told Reuters he sees the feature as an easier way to coordinate with friends as well as for safety. “There are all sorts of products that you can imagine you could build on top of that,” he said in the report.
This isn’t the only new feature Facebook has been adding to its social media offerings. Word broke last week that Facebook is trying out a new local search feature to help its nearly two billion users find what’s going on around them. By typing in things like “dinner nearby” or “bars nearby” into the main search bar, people can find both places to go in the area, along with ratings and a list of friends who have visited that location.