Yesterday, Facebook’s developer conference f8 kicked off and the social network announced a number of new features.
The new stuff centres on the “timeline”, which is due to roll out to accounts over the next few weeks.
The basic idea is that this is a collection of the best updates, photos and so forth from your life. A sort of VIP profile, if you will.
Currently, friends you’ve just caught up with on Facebook can click through to your profile to find out more about you. However, the profile displays your latest updates, but not necessarily the things most important to you, which are likely buried in older posts.
The theory is that these most important events can be collected on an alternate timeline profile, so folks can quickly see what’s really important to you.
The timeline of your life will be presented in chronological order, with a wider, more image heavy layout than the standard profile. You’ll be able to add events to your timeline, and star them as favourites to double size them.
As was widely predicted, another big change is the addition of apps which allow the sharing of interests such as music with your mates.
If your friend is listening to a song, you’ll be able to see that and click to listen along to that tune with them. Of course, you’ll need to have the relevant third party music streaming client – such as Spotify, whose CEO Daniel Ek was on hand at f8 – installed to do so.
Users will be able to see top songs for their friends, and what tracks are currently trending, with a play button ensconced in Facebook to click to immediately hear the material in question.
Facilities will also be available to share video being watched, and explore hobbies such as cooking and recipes.
Facebook has been doing a lot of tweaking of late, as Google+ opens its doors to the public and begins a serious bid to challenge Zuckerberg’s social dominance.
The most recent tweaks to the Facebook newsfeed, however, have been quite unpopular – and certainly have some of our friends discussing moving to Google+, ironically.
In contrast, these additions to the mix will likely be welcome ones in many parts of the online social sphere. It’s when the social network fiddles with the mechanisms that already exist – and ain’t broke according to Facebookers – when it tends to incur the wrath of its user base.
Of course, by providing integrated links to music and video, an expansive range of media and hobbies, Zuckerberg’s aim is clearly to transform Facebook into a place where users will spend more time, and less time elsewhere on the web.
Indeed, the eventual intention seems to be to turn Facebook into the web, broadly speaking; or at least the medium through which everyone accesses the majority of content on the web. As opposed to, say, Google.
Although this strategy isn’t without its risks.
The danger is that the more stuff which is happening on Facebook – the more updates not just of the normal status variety, but about music, video, hobbies, and small fluffy creatures from the depths of space – the more dizzying and unfathomable the whole thing could become. Especially given the average user’s growing number of hundreds of friends as the network expands.
Then people will potentially get frustrated and bored, and look for a cleaner and more streamlined service, “like the old Facebook”.