Facebook’s feature flurry: Highlights from f8

Chase Kell
September 27, 2011

In an ostensible effort to combat the progress of Google+, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg introduced several new features at last week's f8 developers' conference.

Despite the many changes unveiled,  the immediate disapproval of the updated news feed and its ticker seemed to overshadow the other notable features.

Here's a quick roundup of the highlights from last week's conference:

The Timeline

A virtual scrapbook of your Facebook life, the Timeline is "a complete overhaul of its ever-evolving profile page," reports Mashable's Chris Taylor. It's a stream of all your profile's information - from your status updates to photos posted and everything in between - that will scroll back all the way to your Facebook infancy. The hope is that users will be encouraged post more from their past, such as baby photos and old videos. Currently in beta, the Timeline will be opt-in once released, but don't be surprised if it becomes the default profile page in the near future.

Gestures

This new feature will take 'Liking' something to a new level. "Remember when all you could do to something on Facebook — a video, a comment, a product, a person — was Like it?" asks Taylor. Once Gestures rolls out, developers and partners will be able make a button out of any verb applicable. For example, users will be able to share that they're "Watching" a video or "Reading" a magazine without having to inadvertently post they are enjoying it. "This is likely to lead to an explosion of oversharing," notes Taylor.

Music

Creative director Ji Lee spilled the beans when he tweeted details about this new feature before Zuckerberg's keynote at last week's f8. "The 'Listen with your friend' feature is blowing my mind," revealed Lee's tweet. "Listen to what your friends are listening. LIVE." Open Graph will allow users to watch, read or listen to content directly from Facebook (more on Open Graph to come). Users must first give permission for Facebook to post such information, but once permitted, your friends will not only be able to see what you are listening to, they can listen in as well.

Movies and TV

Facebook's new partnerships with Netflix, Hulu and other video-streaming services will allow users to stream movies and TV shows without leaving the site. As with streaming music, your friends will be privy to what you watch via the news feed and can join in on the streaming as well.

News

In an effort to prevent users from leaving the site, Facebook has enlisted the services of news outlets such as Mashable, The Washington Post, The Daily and Yahoo! News to join the Open Graph bandwagon. This will allow users to read full articles from within Facebook without clicking offsite.

The Ticker

Many disgruntled users have already voiced their displeasure, but as Tom Cheredar from VentureBeat explains, the Ticker is essentially a "lightweight feed of updates that won't annoy your friends." Trivial updates such as which farm Chris just visited in "Farmville" will be designated to the Ticker while the more important updates will still appear in your news feed.

Lifestyle apps

Facebook will roll out a new slate of "Lifestyle apps" designed to allow users to share certain details such as how they exercise or what they cook automatically. "The more popular an app is with one's friends, the more likely a user is to see it on their feed," explains Ina Fried from All Things D.