Facebook is testing a new service called 'Place Tips' which will deliver information on shops and landmarks to nearby users by integrating Bluetooth beacons, GPS signals, wi-fi and cellphone signals.
The service will initially be tested in New York, with beacons placed in eight stores including the Strand Book Store, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, as well as landmarks including the Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square and the Statue of Liberty.
Place Tips will use information from the locations' existing Facebook pages and place it above the News Feed on users' smartphones. Initially the service will be free to businesses, but Facebook has said it could one day sell ads tied to the information, making advertising even more personalised and relevant.
According to Facebook, interacting with Place Tips will not post on Facebook or reveal where users are to their friends or the public, but will include pictures or posts friends have shared while at the same location.
The new functionality places Facebook into competition with location-based services like Foursquare and Yelp, which have similar features based around other users' reviews or comments on locations.
Whether Facebook plans to install beacons in cities across the world, which would no doubt be an expensive initiative, will likely depend on how successful the trial of Place Tips proves to be, and if the company feels it can monetise it successfully.