February 5, 2013 - 09:23 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Facebook is developing a smartphone application that will track the location of users, Bloomberg reported citing two people with knowledge of the matter.
The app, scheduled for release by mid-March, is designed to help users find nearby friends and would run even when the program isn’t open on a handset, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public.
Facebook is adding features to help it profit from the surging portion of its more than 1 billion users who access the service via handheld devices. The tracking app could help Facebook sell ads based on users’ whereabouts and daily habits. It may also raise the hackles of consumers and privacy advocates concerned about the company’s handling of personal information.
Regulators in the U.S. and Europe have already scrutinized Menlo Park, California-based Facebook amid concerns that it doesn’t do enough to keep data private. Apple and Google have similar tools for continuously keeping tabs on user whereabouts.
The team developing Facebook’s location software is being led by Peter Deng, a product director who joined from Google in 2007, one person said. The group also includes engineers from Glancee, a location-tracking startup Facebook acquired in May, and Gowalla, a location-based social network whose assets were purchased in December 2011, the person said.
Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg emphasized the need for new mobile products in a Jan 30 call with analysts.
“A lot of what we had to do last year was simply to improve our mobile development process,” Zuckerberg said. “The next thing we’re going to do is get really good at building new mobile-first experiences.”