Facebook Revamps Nearby, Challenges Yelp and Foursquare

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Remember when Facebook acquired Gowalla last year? That deal just bore fruit. Today Facebook launched its revamped Nearby feature, which is more of a mashup of Foursquare and Yelp than the previous iteration where you simply kept track of your friends' check-ins. This new and improved feature marks Facebook's entry into the local business discovery arena.

Available on both the Android and iOS Facebook apps, Nearby will provide a lists of close-by attractions built from the recommendations, likes and check-ins of a user's friends. Users can rate locations with a newly-added, five-star rating system. Among our favorite twists when it comes to the rating system is the fact that users can add comments any time, allowing you to consider your experience and post about it when you're no longer on the premises.  

Facebook will use all this information to create a discovery list, personalized to all those cool people you follow. According to TechCrunch, users can also search for specific locales. There's also a list of helpful categories (Nightlife, Outdoors and Hotels) and subcategories for more precise exploration. Facebook is relying on its own database, so it won't have all the minutia found on Foursquare, Google Maps or Yelp. However, if the company can get enough people to jump on the Nearby bandwagon, that problem should fix itself. Facebook also gives business owners the option of adding themselves.

So far the service is delightfully ad-free, but with Foursquare recently taking the plunge into local ads, we can't blame Facebook for exploring the option. No word yet on whether Facebook Nearby will include mayoral honors, though. 

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