Friends on Fire" lets you easily share your current location with a set of trusted friends. Fire Eagle users can also share short, Twitter-like posts with each other. These are quick updates and tips tied to your location and displayed on a map within Facebook. In addition, the Fire Eagle team has also introduced a Firefox extension that lets you update your location with just one click.Yahoo has just released a new application which brings their location-aware platform Fire Eagle to Facebook's social network. The new app called "
Friends on Fire
When you click the "Get Started" button in the Friends on Fire Facebook application, you're redirected to Yahoo's Fire Eagle page where you have to sign in with a Yahoo ID. If you don't already have one, then you'll need to create one here - an extra step that may be a bit off-putting for new users.
Once you've signed in, you must provide an email address for receiving important updates from Fire Eagle. You then must also specify at what intervals you want to receive an email that asks if you're still comfortable sharing your location. The choices you're given are "once per month," "once every 3 months," and "don't bother." Finally, you have to accept the terms of service and give the Facebook app access to your location.
Back in Facebook, you'll be shown the other Fire Eagle users among your friends and given the opportunity to connect with them. You can also configure additional settings like how exact the location updates are, who can see them on the map, and whether or not the posts update your wall.
Of course, if you're out and about, you're not necessarily going to be hauling around your computer with you. Instead, you'll want to grab one of the mobile Fire Eagle updaters from Yahoo's Gallery. These apps include simple mobile updaters like Fire Fone for the iPhone as well as more robust social networking apps like Brightkite. However, even though these apps are integrated with Fire Eagle, we had some problems getting one of them to also update the Facebook Fire Eagle map. Our preferred mobile social network Brighkite, for instance, updated our Wall but the Fire Eagle map did not show our location.
According to Tom Coates, the head of the Fire Eagle project, it might take a couple of minutes for your location to show up when you use a third party application, but we've waited for 20 minutes so far and the Brightkite update never made its way to the map. Obviously, this delay could hamper the usefulness of a location-aware app - especially if you're checking in at places you're only going to be for a short while - like the local coffee shop or a restaurant where you stopped for lunch.
There are several apps in the list to try, so it looks like we'll need to check them one-by-one to see if that's a common issue, or something specifically related to Brightkite. (Share your experiences in the comments!)
Fire Eagle Updater for Firefox
The Fire Eagle Firefox add-on is much simpler to use. After installing the extension, you only need to click a button in your browser toolbar to update your location. This is useful for those scenarios when you are, in fact, toting your laptop around. It's easy to imagine college students using this on campus, traveling business executives checking in as they launch their browsers in airports and hotel rooms, or web workers checking in from their favorite Wi-Fi hotspots.
Both the add-on and the new Facebook application will help push the concept of location-awareness even further into the mainstream. Although, as we mentioned yesterday, the next step after location-aware apps may be location-aware ads. However, we're still excited to see the developments taking place in this area, especially when it comes from a standards-based platform with strong privacy controls like Yahoo's Fire Eagle.