Mark Zuckerberg has just announced a huge overhaul to Facebook profiles, apps, content and more at the annual f8 conference. What was presented is a huge change to the way in which you experience Facebook, extending way beyond a simple design change, into a complete change to infrastructure at Facebook. It's all about new content discovery, and encouraging users to consume and share increasing amounts of content through the platform. As well as changes within Facebook, they also announced their collaboration with other companies, including music, news and movie providers. It shows Facebook recognise the power of collaboration and what can be achieved when they team up with someone who knows more about a particular area than they do. Below is an overview of the magic coming to Facebook soon...
Probably the biggest change on the entire site was a drastic overhaul to the profile pages which will effectively give you your own personal time lines that stretch back to the day that you joined Facebook.
Your timeline which is shown in this video is like an entirely new canvas for your life. It's all very light weight and easy to update and features a huge picture at the top of the page alongside your own profile picture.
The Like Button
Facebook have overhauled the â€˜Like' button on Facebook, to allow for more frequent sharing of content. The theory is that you will watch a lot more films, or read a lot more books than you will actually Like. So the Facebook Like button is becoming more flexible to function along â€˜verbs' and â€˜nouns'. S I can choose to say â€˜I read The Lovely Bones' or â€˜I watched Blue Valentine'. I may not have liked them and with the previous Like button, semantically this is what I would have been saying by clicking on Like. But now I can choose to share that activity, without necessarily endorsing it.
Location has been doing the rounds a lot lately, as it becomes unclear just what role it will play in the future of social technologies. Facebook just gave us a hint of what the future of location looks like, and in some ways it's less social than you might have thought. The desire to share your location with your friends is really questionable, as it hasn't taken off yet in any guise, including Facebook checkin. But Facebook showed us what location could look like, within the timeline.
You're now able to scroll down through different time periods to see a map of where you were at that time. Simply put, the future of location is more about seeing where you went, than seeing where your friends are now. And with Facebook's recent change to be able to add your location within your update, this information will now be a lot more in depth.
What does it mean for you?
For users, this change from Facebook is probably the most significant overhaul since they introduced the Like button last year. While it may seem that Facebook is becoming more intrusive, with a complete access to your history, instead it's providing users with a more controlled access to the content that Facebook has about you anyway. Facebook isn't about to index more content, but they're actually opening up to show you all the content that they have stored about you. In this way, it could actually give users more control. If there's a particular time in your life you'd rather not be reminded of, you can go in and delete that content if you'd rather not be reminded of it, or have your friends see it. And in the same vein, you also have more control as you can add content retrospectively. So if you've dug up some old photos of when you were younger, you can upload these and add them chronologically, instead of just seeing it in your latest news.
It will change the way we use Facebook massively but it will also impact the way in which we think of ourselves as content producers. Right now there isn't much to differentiate in the newsfeeds of someone who uses Facebook a lot and diversely, compared to someone who just writes the odd update. But the way in which the new timelines will be displayed, there will be a lot more â€˜colour' added to your profile, with a bigger emphasis on the multimedia content you create.
The second biggest announcement was the Open graph. Instead of people having to sign up and give permissions to apps on a contsant basis a new one click policy has been introduced that share the story of an app in a light weight way to the timeline.
Social gaming has been massively overhauled to make for a more seamless user experience and a more complet social experience altogether. If you play a lot of social games on Facebook, you probably get annoyed with endless popups asking if you want to share certain activity, such as your latest score in Scrabble. This is moving now towards a more frictionless permissions experience. The idea is that you will grant an app permission once, and you will clearly see just what that will look like, such as the images and text that would get posted to your timeline. Then the app will continue to publish social news within the news ticker (but not the timeline).
Social games have also become a more inherently social experience, through the ticker in the new Facebook profiles. This will give you a summary of activity, for example if 2 of your friends are playing Scrabble. Within the ticker, you can bring up an image of that game, which can be expanded on. It's about encouraging more social discovery of friends activity, and keeping that activity as social as possible once you use an app yourself.
Perhaps the biggest announcement came with the news that all apps will work across all mobile browsers in the coming weeks which means that smart phones will now support Facebook apps. There wasn't a huge amount of information shared initially but this is a huge win for HTML 5 and means that Facebook have filled on one of their major holes which was mobile.
In another interesting move there are a new type of app that are being built on top of Facebook. One such example is the well publicized Color app which was a bit of a flop but it has reinvented itself as a photo app that is completely built on top of Facebook alone. This is massively powerful for them and Scoble has a good preview of what it will be like and the fact that it is probably better than anything Facebook has themselves for mobile.
One of the most significant things around Facebook's announcement, and indeed the underlying trend around all the changes they've made, is the ability to discover more and more content. Facebook is doing the hard work for you of presenting you with the content that you're likely to be interested in - both for the stories you've generated, as well as stories your friends have generated. But more than just filtering content, Facebook is finding new ways to summarise the content that you're shown. Now it's about trends.
The fact is we can only consume so much content without the need for smarter syndication. Facebook will now do this by grouping together updates and activities from your friends, into trends. So I can see for example, that 3 of my friends are listening to a particular song, or 4 of them watched films today that starred a particular actor. I can then expand this summary to see the friend activity broken down. It's a signal of the amount of content we are consuming now, that we're reaching the limit of what we can consume naturally. Now we need the â€˜headlines' of content, that we can choose to click into when we want.
As expected this was one of the biggest parts of the announcement and it was absolutely spectacular. 12 music services have been included at the start in total and they will have a very deep integration with the Facebook ticker (the new mini news feed that started appearing on profiles in the top right hand corner last week. Spotify was one of the main demos and the best feature has to be the ability to discover music in real time by listening to what your friends are listening to. It's all about discover and ease of use and it feels like everybody will be listening to music very quickly via their Facebook profiles.
Facebook has partnered up with Netflix to offer users a completely new way to watch and discover films. Discovering new music or films is difficult, but Facebook have just revolutionised the way in which you can do this. In the new news ticker, you can instantly see what TV shows or films your friends are watching. You can choose to expand on this content to bring it up within chat at the bottom of the screen.
The new movies within Facebook are about discovering more content than you could before, in a completely new way. You will watch something because a friend did, but more than that, you can even watch it at the same time as your friend. It makes the content your viewing instantly social. For now movies is available in 44 out of the 45 countries Netflix is live in - excluding the U.S!
With over 20 launch partners Facebook thinks that thisis the way we are all going to consume our media in the future. Partners include Thw Wall Street Journal, Digg, Flipboard, The Daily, The Mirror and Yahoo. The visuals around this will be absolutely stunning and it allows you to open a pane within Facebook and read the content right there and then. The idea here is that you will be able to discover content based on what your friends are reading and view it in real time as it appears in your ticker.
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