Facebook Places Off To A Rough Start In San Francisco

San Francisco's Mission District

Photo: Dustin Diaz

Facebook’s Places feature debuted last night and I was able to try out the new service around San Francisco.Although not all users were able to access the feature yet, some users were able to try it out — myself included.

Trying out Places had its problems at first. The feature was not available immediately and cell phone reception in certain areas bogged it down.

Once it was finally running smoothly, check-ins were relatively easy to use. Tagging friends wasn’t hard either.

Instead I tried the mobile web Facebook site, which allowed me to look at the feature; my cell phone coverage, however, did not allow me to update.

Once I finally got the site to load, I tried to check in, only to find that my first location was not available.

I tried adding in the information for my location, but was again thwarted by my cell phone reception in Berkeley.

I left the restaurant disappointed not only because I wasn't able to check in, but also because I spent most of dinner on the phone fiddling with the site.

Finally, the Places location worked on my iPhone app and I attempted my first check-in at Mitchell's Ice Cream in San Francisco.

The screen had a place to include a status update, along with checking in friends.

But first, you have to agree to allow Facebook to show your locations.

I agreed, despite my qualms about location-based services, and allowed my friends to see my check-ins.

I had plans to test the notification services when a friend checks in nearby, but this failed when he wasn't able to check in on his phone.

This friend, however, could see me check in under the Places feature despite not being able to check in himself.

Taking a look at the page for the business from my laptop, I noticed that two other people checked in at that same location.

Since I wasn't friends with them, I wasn't able to see who they were; instead, I could only see my own check-in at that location.

This could potentially be the biggest boost to the location app scene, since the Places feature is simple to use.

Facebook users checking their feeds on their phones can easily check in at their location.

Although the idea of meeting up with friends through Places is intriguing, we're imagining more awkward avoidances than serendipitous fun. We're not fully sold on Facebook Places, but it'll be interesting to see the general reaction to it as more and more people begin to check-in at places.

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