Instagram fans have noticed something new when they tag locations in their photos. For a subset of users, the usual Foursquare database isn’t popping up to show nearby restaurants and bars. Instead, the little-used Facebook Places database appears.
That's because Instagram is testing out how replacing Foursquare with its Facebook Places will work.
Facebook Places hasn’t exactly been a marquee feature for the social network. Its original iteration was killed off because no one used it. Still, Facebook isn’t exactly a slouch when it comes to location-tagging; it has allowed users to identify their location in photos and photo albums for years. It’s just not as widely used for real-time location checks (my account still lists one of my recent locations as Seoul, and I haven’t been there in three years.)
While losing Instagram’s patronage wouldn't be good for Foursquare, it wouldn't be a fatal blow. Even though the location-sharing app’s days as a trendy check-in tool are over, the company made the wise choice to shift into providing data services to a variety of third-party apps. Instagram is a big one, but companies like Uber, Pinterest, Vine, Microsoft, and Flickr all use its free API integration and venue database.
Facebook benefits by keeping its location-tagging service native instead of bringing a third-party and competitor into the mix. As long as Facebook Places is up to the task and users don’t start complaining about sub-par location-tagging, it seems inevitable that Instagram will swap out Foursquare in favor of the location app from its parent company.
H/T Fast Company | illustration by Jason Reed