Facebook’s refreshed Nearby feature for iOS & Android could take a bite out of Yelp

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Facebook has updated the “Nearby” feature on its iOS and Android mobile apps, a move that could hurt Yelp and Foursquare in the location data wars.

While Facebook basically dropped out of owning check-ins, it still wants users to depend on its apps for everything they need, including finding places to eat, drink, shop, and more. Facebook has had a Nearby feature on iOS and Android, but before it was focused on showing people nearby. (A quick scan on my phone shows that hardly any of my friends check-in, so very few show up in the feature.)

But the new Nearby gets way more powerful by using friend check-ins to power recommendations around you and show great places to visit near you, both similar to what you get out of Foursquare. It also shows off business hours of places you look at, something you’d normally use Yelp for.

The company wrote in a blog post today:

Today we’re announcing updates to Nearby in the Facebook for iOS and Android apps that make it easy to discover new places your friends like.

From the app menu, open the tab to find local spots your friends have recommended, checked into, or liked. If you’re looking for a place to eat, choose a category like Restaurants to see what’s nearby. When you find a place that looks interesting, tap to see info like friends who’ve been there and business hours.

In addition to discovering new places to visit, you can share what you think by rating or recommending places to your friends. Your own suggestions become more personalized the more you and your friends rate, recommend, and check into places.

Facebook says that the Nearby feature is still fresh, so the results will get better as more people use it. The company also said it plans to include places info from third-party services “in the near future.”

The update to Facebook’s iOS and Android apps will be available later today.

Yelp investors don’t seem particularly enthusiastic about Facebook encrouching on Yelp’s territory, as Yelp’s stock is currently down 3.5 percent in late-day trading.


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