Facebook reveals radical new profile design, app ecosystem at F8 conference

By Patrick Stafford
Friday, 23 September 2011

Social giant Facebook has announced some of the most dramatic updates to its profile design since the site's inception, with chief executive Mark Zuckerberg revealing new features including the ability to stream music with Spotify and watch films through the site using Netflix.


App developers have also been thrown a bone, with Facebook announcing a new type of app ecosystem that assumes people want to share content with their friends about whatever they are doing.


The changes, which were announced by Zuckerberg at the company's F8 conference for developers, come as Google+ attempts to threaten the network's dominant market position by eradicating the need for invitations.


"Today we're making it possible to create a whole new class of apps and change industries at the same time," Zuckerberg said.


The first major change is the complete overhaul of an individual's profile, which is now called the "timeline". Profiles now feature a large photograph at the top of the page, along with some basic information.


And while these profiles still contain some elements of the old profiles, such as the "wall", there is an emphasis on past content. Users can scroll down and view a virtual timeline of all their status updates, pictures and app activity. You can also include activity from before 2004, when Facebook began.


Zuckerberg described the new profile as "the story of your life – all your stories, all your apps and a new way to express who you are."


This new profile will also be available on mobile devices, while a new places feature also shows where users have checked-in.


The next major update is an upgrade to the Open Graph platform. Here, apps are now given a wider vocabulary. Previously, users could only say they "like" certain pages or content, but now, apps will be given a wider range of responses, such as "Mark is reviewing a restaurant", if a user is writing a review on an appropriate application.


The company is also branching out into new types of apps such as media, and lifestyle, which include fashion and travel.


"We are making it so you can connect to anything you want. Now you don't have to like a book, you can just read a book," Zuckerberg said. "You don't have to like a movie; you can just watch a movie."


These new apps will also automatically share your content on Facebook, showing up in the new real-time ticker. Facebook explains this will make it easier for your friends to discover new types of content, but it also means that apps won't be required to ask for permission over and over again.


Both music-streaming service Spotify and DVD rental company Netflix revealed they had been working with Facebook on the new Open Graph, with Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek explaining how the service would integrate with the network.


"It's a big day for all of the music lovers around the world," Ek said, confirming reports that Spotify would integrate some sort of functionality with Facebook.


Netflix also announced integration, showing that when users are watching a movie through the network, a notice would show up in the ticker telling their friends about this.


Facebook also announced a new type of app category called lifestyle apps, which will allow users to share content as well. This would include apps such as Foodspotting, which show a user's friends where they are eating, while Nike+ GPS would show users how far they have travelled while running or jogging.


The new Facebook profiles will be activated in the next few weeks.


This article first appeared on SmartCompany.

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