FindMe, an irritating GPS for Facebook friends

As far as a location-based service goes, FindMe isn't a bad idea. But the implementation of this beta service needs a fair amount of fine-tuning.


The new location-based service FindMe is a straightforward app that uses cell phone towers to broadcast your general whereabouts to Facebook friends, saving you from updating Facebook manually with places you frequently travel. In beta, FindMe installs on your cell phone and updates your Facebook status when it senses you've changed locations. For each new cell area FindMe detects, you'll be able to tag it "Work," "Home," and so on, and you'll only share addresses you manually enter yourself. As you change zones, FindMe updates your bearings, going "dark" when you switch to offline mode.

Like Google Maps for Mobile, FindMe relies on cell phone towers to generalize your geography, so the service works for all cell phones regardless of GPS support.

FindMe's reporting style prompted a friend to IM me, "What the heck is with your Facebook status?" (Credit: CNET Networks)

It's a somewhat good, somewhat limited idea that suffers from half-formed presentation issues. For instance, FindMe doesn't believe in grammatical standards when updating Facebook, nor in identifying FindMe-produced status messages with a proprietary icon. Not only does this miss the promotion boat, it confuses friends who wonder why I keep changing my status to "Jessica is at an unknown location," or to this caveman grunt: "Jessica Work."

FindMe also has the annoying "useful" habit of updating every 15 minutes even when the phone is stationary. Assuming I never leave the office and don't go dark, my Facebook status would show 32 "Work" messages during any given eight-hour weekday.

I welcome the team's plan to add Wi-Fi or Bluetooth sensing, or both, in addition to GPS support. The integration would add finer resolution for distinguishing between your desk and the deli next door. Future development will see FindMe as a standalone app that can feed Web site widgets, Skype status, and possibly Google docs. I hope it offers more granular status options, as well, like only broadcasting starred tags or turning off updates for unknown locations.

FindMe is currently available for Windows Mobile and BlackBerry phones. To try it, add the FindMe app to your Facebook profile.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.