It’s Friday night. You’ve already booked a babysitter and are gearing up for date night. There’s just one problem: You have no idea what to do.
It’s a problem many of us face. We all get caught up with work and everyday life, so when it comes time to actually plan something fun, we’re often stuck trying to make last-minute plans that may or may not actually play out. Or worse, we accidentally miss the fact that our favorite performer just happens to be playing at a venue a few blocks away.
Some new Facebook features being released today aim to make the social network more useful in your everyday life, particularly when it comes to planning those big (or small) nights out.
"It’s an unbelievably challenging process in 2016 to figure out what there is to go do," says Andrew "Boz" Bosworth, Facebook's vice president of engineering. "This is not a new idea by any means, but I actually think we're almost worse off now than we were even 10 years ago when we first were talking about this, because now it's like a very mobile landscape."
In order for you to make plans to do something, you first need to know that something exists. Local Events is the first new feature Facebook is rolling out, and arguably the first step in making plans using the social network.
With this new feature you’ll be able to go to a revamped-up Events tab within Facebook and see what’s going on around you—either for that day or any day in the future—tailored to what Facebook knows you enjoy and what your friends are planning on doing.
For instance, my search for what to do this weekend in San Francisco might bring up the Spicy Food and IPA festival going on downtown, something I didn’t know about before I came across the Facebook event, but now definitely plan on attending.
When you do find that event, Facebook is making it even easier to go ahead and buy a ticket. Thanks to existing partnerships with Ticketmaster and Eventbrite, many events are already selling tickets directly on Facebook.
Now the social network is taking things a step further, allowing you to do things like order food (thanks to an integration with Slice and Delivery.com), get quotes from businesses, or even request an appointment. Both appointments and quotes are handled through Facebook’s Messenger service with the help of HomeAdvisor and MyTime, allowing you the ability to chat with everyone from your local hairstylist to your mechanic, and make appointments directly within Facebook with no need to ever pick up a phone.
For businesses, it gives even the smallest companies a way to have a mobile presence and communicate with their customers online.
Sometimes you already know what you want to do, but you’re not quite sure where to do it. Facebook’s final announcement Wednesday is a new Recommendation feature. It’s been in beta for a bit, so you might have seen it on friend’s walls, but the basic premise is that when you’re looking for something—for instance, a dinner recommendation for that date night—you can post something on your wall and get recommendations from friends.
You’ve already probably done that before. The difference now is that Facebook is using artificial intelligence to determine what your friends are suggesting, and then auto link to those businesses' pages in the comments. Even better, suggestions are also populated on a map, so you can easily see that a restaurant is right beside the concert venue you’re headed to, or is something you’ll likely need to grab a cab for.
And this is only just the beginning.
"The problem is bigger than what we’re announcing today," Bosworth says of the difficulty of planning events in the social-media age. "Other products that we’re going to continue to work on over the course of the next few months and even years will all fit into this ideal."
An ideal of making Facebook your one-stop shop for planning that perfect evening from start to finish.