Thursday, 22 September 2011

Facebook F8 Conference 2011 - As It Happened

Today Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg addressed  fellow engineers and social media entrepreneurs at the F8 conference, discussing the latest features to hit his website. Held in San Francisco, F8 is an event that gives the team behind Facebook a chance to explain the changes that are on the way in great detail.

There was an abundance of news and features announced today. let's start with 'Open Graph', a term that I heard over and over again as I watched today's live stream. Essentially, Open Graph enables application developers to integrate web pages into a social environment. Ultimately, this means developers can allow Facebook users access to their websites without the users having to leave Facebook at all. Of course, Open Graph is far more complex than this, but this is merely an introduction to what the technology can achieve.

Open Graph appeared incredibly versatile in the tech demo shown this afternoon. "Every piece of content in Open Graph has a picture associated", said Zuckerberg. This means that the feature can provide you with a greater insight as to what your friends are doing. The Facebook founder used the example of 'Words With Friends', a popular online game. Zuckerberg was able to see his friends playing the game together in real time via updates delivered to the 'ticker' on the profile page, all thanks to Open Graph.

Clearly, Facebook is to undergo a complete facelift. The profile page alone is to experience a redesign, along with the iconic 'ticker' (A real time update feed at the right hand side of a Facebook user's profile page)

Perhaps the star of the show was the new 'Timeline' feature. As the large projector screen at the convention centre showed, Timeline gives users a more personal news feed than ever before. There's now even more ways to interact with your Facebook friends. It has also been confirmed that Timeline will be fully supported on handheld devices. Timeline lets you share information about films, television, books, people, music, events and more. As Zuckerberg put it, Timeline is 'The story of your life with a completely new way to express yourself'.

Netflix CEO Reed Hasting's took to the stage to briefly discuss the new NetFlix app. Netflix, founded in 1997, is an American provider of online streaming media. Hasting's explained how the NetFlix app will be integrated into Timeline and Open Graph yet was reluctant to disappoint the crowd after revealing the feature will not be available in the US at launch. Primarily, this is due to 'a law (The Video Privacy Protection Act) banning the sharing of video rental information'.

Personally, I feel the Spotify application will be a real crowd-pleaser when it arrives along with the newly polished Facebook. When you're listening to a song through the Spotify client a person on your friends list can also join you as you listen to your music, all in real time. As a side note, I imagine this has really gotten the team behind iTunes worried. It'll be interesting to see how Facebook's new Spotify feature and iTunes compete with each other as the Spotify application gathers momentum.

Zuckerberg also addressed the world of Facebook gaming. "Games have been the most successful [applications] on Facebook and we think Open Graph will take them to the next level by allowing you to discover even more of them." Presented to the audience was a graphic showcasing a number of games developers thought to be developing new applications for the website. The list included a number of notable publishers including the likes of EA and Playfish.

'Lifestyle Apps' were also discussed, with a quick glimpse of a Nike application that lets you track routes you run and the time in which it took to complete the run. Now combined with Open Graph and the Timeline, the application allows your friends to see when and where you have run recently. Facebook's motto behind the Open Graph feature is a simple one: "Frictionless experiences, real time serendipity".

This year's F8 conference ended with some important dates. Zuckerberg announced that the Timeline feature is now available for developers, yet public Facebook members must apply to test it out. The beta starts today, with Zuckerberg announcing soon after that the Open Graph feature will be available once users have had time to learn their way around the new Timeline feature.

It was an action-packed F8 this year with lots of interesting discussion points. How will Facebook users cope with the changes made to the website they've already learnt to navigate? Perhaps the beta period will go some way to answering this question.


hi tom morgan iam the publisher of the blog

You got a nice blog too

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