This Thursday sees Facebook hold it's annual F8 developer conference which is traditionally where they launch most of their major products and this year looks like it could be a whopper with some big announcements in the pipeline. Facebook are clearly on a mission at the moment spurred on by the increased competition from Google + and last week (which would normally have been a quiet week) they completely overhauled the news feed by launching a series of new features that give users more control. So just what are they going to announce this week?
Mini News Feed
We spotted a ton of new features in the wild last week (they have since been removed but you can see a screen cast of them here) that showed a mini news feed in the top right hand corner of the site that followed you around everywhere you go. It's a new way of increasing engagement on the site and interestingly in updates in real time which draws users back in. The fact that it also contains rich media and the ability to interact from within the mini feed will completely change how people use the site. Also from a brand perspective sponsored stories appear in this mini feed so we could see another ad format rolled out to fit within this new feed. With Facebook testing this last week we would be stunned if it didn't launch.
Real Time Facebook
Facebook updates pretty quickly as it it but it took the emergence of Google + to show that there was the possibility to have something even faster. Again last week we spotted lots of new real time features being tested out within the main news feed and the new mini news feed. You will no longer have to refresh the page to get the latest updates and we could even see comments appearing in real time. Facebook have lots of experience in this area with the founders of Friendfeed as part of the team and we could be about to say goodbye to the days of Facebook crawling along at a snails pace.
Everybody knows this is coming and it is going to be a biggie. Facebook has partnered up with at least 5 music services including the immensely popular Spotify and is set to launch a platform that will be very similar to it's gaming platform. Facebook will let it's partners do the heavy work of streaming music to hundreds of millions of users but by all accounts a music dashboard will sit within your Facebook profile and allow you stream songs instantly. This has been in the pipeline for a long time and will steal the show at the F8 conference. The big question is how deeply Facebook insists on credits being used for this and if it's available to the entire world from this Thursday. We certainly hope so.
This has been coming for months now and simply has to be launched this week. Facebook was made to be viewed on an iPad (photos, videos and other rich media are perfect for browsing) and the leaked shots that Techcrunch had looked impressive. This shouldn't really have taken 18 months but there are clearly some deeper issues going on with Apple and Facebook but they can't hold it back forever.
This is the one that nobody really knows about for sure. Facebook have had a team working on this for the best part of a year and it is essentially a mobile operating system that Facebook are building using HTML5 that will allow users to use their apps and various other parts of the site bypassing the app stores on iOS and Android. Facebook knows it is weak in the mobile space and it wants people to start playing their games, probably listen to their music and carry out other paying actions on mobile using Facebook credits and that is what Spartan aims to fix. Small bits have been leaking out about it but it feels like it might be a bit of a long shot to launch this week. Having said that the developers who want to work with it will all be in the same room so it's not out of the question that Facebook could pull it out of the bag.