Facebook relaunches Events app as Facebook Local, adds bars and food

Bad news for Yelp and good news for nightlife lovers. When you want to go out, it doesn’t necessarily have to be to an event. So to help you discover bars, restaurants, and nearby attractions too, Facebook is rebranding its standalone Events app as “Facebook Local”. Launching in the U.S. today on iOS and Android, Facebook Local combines events and permanent places to a single search engine powered by Facebook 70 million business Pages plus reviews and friends’ checkins.

Facebook Local product manager Aditya Koolwal tells me the goal was to “Make it as lot easier to do certain kind of looks ups that are very common when making plans with friends.” For now, he tells me Facebook Local won’t feature ads from businesses and events trying to stand out, but says “we’ll think about advertising way further down the line.”

Facebook first launched the Events app just over a year ago to help that one friend who rallies everyone to go out find where to bring everyone. It was useful for seeing Event invites and wall posts in one place, and seeing nearby happenings on a certain day. But it was a bit buggy, redundant with the main Facebook app’s event feature, and ruled out place that were fun every night rather than just when they threw parties.

Facebook Local could help you pick between great bars on a block, and find out if one has a band playing. Here’s how the app works.

Facebook Local’s home page shows shortcuts to see nearby restaurants, cafes, drinks, attractions, and more, as well as where friends and people you follow go. You’ll see a calendar of your day’s Events, a Trending Events feed, guides to music, nightlife, art, and other happenings, and options to see everything going on on certain days. A Discover feed shows top suggestions and what’s popular with friends. And a Calendar tab lays out all your Event invites and RSVPs.

Even if you don’t use the standalone Facebook Local app, you’ll still benefit. Koolwal tells me Facebook and Local share the same code, so when it improves something like the ability to search for “cappucino” not just “cafes”, that enhancement populates back to Facebook.

If Facebook actually promotes the Facebook Local app, it could become a legitimate alternative to Yelp or Foursquare, using both Facebook’s wide range of local business data with your social graph and user generated content like photos and reviews. That in turn could convince businesses to invest more in their Facebook Pages, turn all their offline happenings into Facebook Events, and seek more social content from their customers.

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