Facebook has been pretty busy over the last few weeks. After a successful Q2 report which saw its stock price rise and come close to its opening day value, it also released Graph Search to all US English users. These are siginificant milestones for the company, but it's the iOS app update that could lead to something more exciting. Not only made hashtags accessible, but it placed a greater emphasis on businesses and video, mainly being able to book a reservation and check showtimes for TV and films.
Compared to what's gone before it, it's not a major update, but it - and one significant purchase - are important as it hints towards Facebook bringing Graph Search to mobile, and further refining the product.
It's no secret that Facebook wants to know where you're going and what you're doing - that data is essential for it to improve the experience for both users and advertisers. But instead of trying to be exactly like Foursquare or Yelp, it's giving location services its own twist.
Since every business and person has a Facebook page, it allows a more consistent experience where business sites, especially restaurants, can be hit and miss. By definition, Facebook provides a straightforward layout and it's probably no surprise that more people flock to these pages to find basic info like opening hours or location. So if people are checking these pages, then why wouldn't they book a table through it as well. A similar principle would apply to films although getting different cinemas to allow for booking tickets through their Facebook page would take more work.
And this all ties into Graph Search as it provides more context for it to work with. Currently, it values the relevance of a place by how many friends like its page. Adding booking (and later reviews) into the equation will give it added context for it to work with. Imagine if it took a leaf out of iTunes' book and asked for a review a day after you booked it. Chances are that if it's fresh in their minds, more people would be inclined to rate it.
Providing incentives for users to produce such information is what Facebook needs as the more information it has to work with, the more comprehensive Graph Search becomes. Also, its acquisition of Mobile Technology, a Pittsburgh-based company which develops speech-recognition tools, strongly suggests that voice search will soon become a reality.
Considering how Facebook phrases its search function (e.g.: Friends who live in Dublin), using pre-determined phrases seems like a more user-friendly (if somewhat limited) way of utilising voice search. Of course, such features require time to develop so it wouldn't be surprising if it released a beta version in a future update.
It might be a while before such an idea is realised though, Facebook has a habit of rolling out changes slowly, but the intention is clear. It's going to be interesting to see how Graph Search plays out when it makes the move to mobile.
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