Facebook Places was launched tonight.
Interestingly the screenshots used in the launch and on the Facebook Blog all seem to use Google Maps. However the Bing Community blog says that it is using Bing Maps and seems to have the screenshots to prove it. My guess is that Facebook Places is using Google Maps for its iPhone app and Bing Maps on the Facebook website.
Unfortunately, for the rest of the world, Facebook Places at the moment is only available in the United States.
Facebook Places will allow you to check-in to locations, find friends who are nearby, track location history and find places and venues nearby. If a friend checks in nearby to your current location you will get a notification. Facebook Places will also allow you to tag photos and friends. Tagging friends essentially means that you can check-in your friends when they are at a location with you.
Facebook Places also looks like it will have place or venue pages. Each place will have its own page on Facebook. These place pages will show you who else is checked in right now at this location.
Facebook are launching an API for Places. The Read API is launching tomorrow. The Read API will let you access your check-ins and your friends' check-ins. There will also be a Write and Search API. This is currently in closed Beta.
Places comes with a number of privacy controls. By default your check-ins can only be viewed by your friends on Facebook. However it is possible to change your privacy settings to allow anyone to view your location data. Users will also be notified when they are tagged by a friend. You can then remove the tag if you want. You can also change your settings so that your friends can't tag your location.
Facebook today also announced a number of partners who will be utilising Places. These include Gowalla, foursquare, Yelp and Booyah.
If you have an iPhone you can use Facebook Places with the most recent version of the Facebook application for iPhone. You also can access Places from touch.facebook.com if your mobile browser supports HTML 5 and geolocation.