Facebook held a press conference today to discuss the latest in their mobile features. They talked about a streamlined log-in process and the addition of "deals" to their recently launched location-based Places application. They've also created a Places search API to enable mobile, social, local applications.
But it was while Dave Fetterman, an engineering manager, was talking that I was struck by a realization about why Facebook's Places platform is going to be better than its competitors.
"Places are ranked by how important they are to that user," Fetterman said.
Just like Facebook filters your News Feed based on what's most relevant to you and your friends, it's going to filter real-life locations in precisely the same way. It will be seamless and easy and ridiculously useful.
So, if all my friends check into Beretta in San Francisco, and I hit the "Nearby" button in Places, it will show Beretta at the top of a list of restaurants in the Mission. That's powerful. Think about it as a travel tool, too. You go to New York, where you probably have some friends. Even if you've never been there and have no idea where to go, your friends checking in at their favorite places will provide you with a custom list of places to go in the city.