Step aside, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare. Facebook has quietly rolled out a new feature, Facebook Places, with the goal of bringing together the best parts of all three services — information on your friends' activities, reviews, and geolocation data — all in one.
Using the search bar on the landing page of Facebook Places, type in the name of a city. It will display six categories, Restaurants, Hotels, Bars, Cafes, Public Attractions, and Art and Entertainment, populated with photos posted by your Facebook friends and others who've visited places in that city. Reviews are front and center on Facebook Places. Each photo is annotated with review stars along with excerpts of reviews, an aspect that experts say may eventually give users less of a reason to visit more traditional review sites.
The blog Search Engine Land describes Facebook Places as the result of various aspects of the Facebook platform, including demographic and interest data, business pages, and geolocation capabilities, being integrated into one powerful feature, tailored to each individual user. And, given that the information is shaped by likes, ratings, and reviews left by friends — rather than reviews written by strangers on Yelp and TripAdvisor — the search results are viewed as more meaningful and useful.
But one advantage that Yelp has over Facebook Places — at least for now — is the vast number of review categories it offers, including apartment communities. Experts say it's just a matter of time, though, before Facebook Places expands beyond its current six categories, which could include reviews on everything from apartment communities to dry cleaners to dog walking services.