If you thought the changes released early morning Wednesday were big, you should hear what Facebook announced today! As Ben Parr from Mashable said yesterday, “Facebook’s goal is to become the social layer that supports, powers and connects every single piece of the web, no matter who or what it is or where it lives.” And those ambitions are clear in the announcements from F8. After a quick and somewhat amusing intro from Andy Samberg playing Mark Zuckerberg (“Zuck Dawg!”), we got down to brass tacks.
Here’s a quick summary:
Uncle Zuck gave some background for the announcements first. He shared with us that last month, they had half a billion people on Facebook online on one day! He said that the five years up to now has been about getting everyone connected, and that the next era would be defined by apps and the experience now possible with so many people signed up.
The Profile is at the center of FB development - people feel intense ownership of their profile. FB wants to make your profile the best place to share things on the Internet. Also, people have spent years curating the stories of their life, but there was no way to go back and capture/share that past material. Timeline will be the story of your life, all your stories, all your apps, and a new way to express who you are. In the upper right of your profile will be all your years on Facebook as a quick reference. You’ll get a “cover photo” at the top to express yourself. There will also be “visual tiles” for accessing your apps. Timeline will also be optimized for mobile.
Everything you’ve shared recently will still be there, just like your wall, but as you go backward in time, Timeline will start to summarize your FB activity so you don’t get inundated with minutia over time. However, everything will be stored, and you can access them by hovering over a series of dots running down the center of the timeline as points in time. You can even go back and fill in points in time by adding things to the timeline after the fact. You can also sort your Timeline by type of content.
Timelines are a new aesthetic for Facebook, including a cover pic that enables you to share a new photo anytime that speaks to who you are. You can also share photos as “major events” and they will expand to the width of your Timeline. You have complete control over everything on your Timeline – you can change privacy or visibility of any event.
Apps return to Profiles
Previously, people added boxes to their profiles and they added so many it became unwieldy. So now Facebook has rethought this and designed a new ability to use Apps to add stories to your Timeline. Reports are now a way to roll-up a summary of your activity using a single app, and these can be added to your Timeline.
Apps can be added to your Timeline like they could be before, but you can also add apps as you discover them on your friends pages by just hovering over the app and completing a newly streamlined permissions screen.
There is now a completely new class of Open Graph Apps in this iteration of the Social Graph. You’ll get Gestures – rather than “liking a movie” you can “Watch” a movie, “Hike” a trail, “Read a book” etc. There will be a new class of media apps and “lifestyle” apps that will summarize fashion, food, hobbies, etc.
The new Ticker displays “lightweight” activity such as liking things, watching movies, reading books, etc. so that it does not fill up your News Feed when your friends do this kind of sharing. Lightweight activities will no longer show up in your News Feed.
There will be a type of Open Graph to add activity to your Timeline via “frictionless experiences” which automatically assign any app activity to your timeline and your friends’ Tickers, but not so that it will hit friends’ News Feeds and you will not have to be prompted to share while you are in the middle of using the app. Once you approve the sharing of an app when you first authorize an app, you’ll never have to be prompted again.
You will also be able to discover things from your friends using “real-time serendipity” because you will be able to see what your friends are doing on an app in real time – you can even sync up with friends as in listening to a song with someone on Spotify. You can join in from activity that you see on the Ticker and jump in. But if there is a larger experience or trend who are liking something, or sharing playlists, or something like that, it will show in your News Feed so you don’t miss it. You can also spot trends, like what music does your friend like or what movies they watch by viewing patterns in your friends’ activity feed. You can click on music in someone’s activity and listen to it right there. Also, you can see who has done the same from you, so you can see if you have turned someone on to a song, artist, movie, etc.
Zuck introduced a huge partnerships with Spotify that will make all this music sharing possible, Hulu for sharing video, Netflix for video & movies. In these apps, you’ll see who’s doing what and will be prompted to join in or want to watch, read or listen to it too. This is a huge potential way of changing how we discover news, shows, music, etc. for ourselves. You will even be able to see games that your friends are playing along with a screen shot of what’s going on in the game right now.
Also shared, since it is a Developer’s conference, Facebook’s CTO addressed HOW to make these new class of apps. Since most of you aren’t developers, we’ll spare you.
When do we get it?!
Timeline’s beta starts now – developers will start using it today, and others can sign up for it and get it rolled out over the next few weeks. The Open Graph apps will start rolling out first with media apps right away, and lifestlye apps will roll out after the Open Graph sees wider use.