Facebook Unveils Timeline for ‘Friction-less’ Serendipity

FacebookTwitterLinkedIn

Today at Facebook’s f8 developers conference, an upbeat Andy Samberg Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Timeline, demonstrated in the video above. He described it as “the heart of your Facebook experience, completely rethought from the ground up. Timeline is the story of your life.”

Timelines’ three key features — “all your stories, all your apps, and a new way to express who you are” — expand the user profile all the way back to … well, as far as you want it to go back.

Get ready to curate your life stream and engage with friends in “real-time serendipity in a friction-less experience.” It also make the site a lot more visual — photos are now bigger, with the timeline optimized for tablets and connected devices, and it can embed apps to incorporate music and other rich media elements.

Below, watch a video demo and find out more about the changes coming to Facebook, and why.[more]

The key design challenge, which Zuckerberg noted they’d been working on for a year, was how to display all this content on one page. Timeline shows recent content in a new grid-view and items going back in time are summarized and not featured prominently.

The heart of the FB experience has, and always will be, the user profile. Originally, Zuckerberg said, user profiles simulated the first five minutes of a conversation with a friend or stranger (where you live, what you do, where you went to school, your relationship status) and then the updated Profile in 2008 extended that conversation to the most recent 15 minutes of your life: what you’re doing now, via the status update.

The new Profile unveiled today is “the rest” of a deeper, more meaningflu conversation, as you might have over a couple of hours with a good friend, said Zuckerberg, who touted engagement as the heart of the social graph. “We wanted to design a place that feels like your home.”

The next era of social defined by apps and depth of engagement through Open Graph is “a new aesthetic” for FB exemplified by Timeline. “People are going to want to express all sorts of things about their lives and they’re going to rely on apps to help them out,” Zuckerberg said, who used the word “beautiful” to describe how FB wants to elevate the user experience.

A “new class of social apps” was pitched as: “Express who you are through all the things that you do — the music you love, the recipes you enjoy, the runs you take, and more.”

The Ticker feature (the feed that floats along the right side of Facebook) will enhance the user profile with a lightweight stream of everything going on, not delivered through the News Feed, “but a socially acceptable way to express lightweight activity in a new order of magnitude.”

Music apps like Spotify, demonstrated in the keynote, will let users post live activity like listening to music (or playing games) so friends can join in. 

Lifestyle apps about daily activities like cooking, running or biking make sharing “real-time serendipity” for Facebook users.

Open Graph is rethinking the music and media industries, cueing cameos on-stage from Spotify CEO Daniel Ek and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

Ek believes that Open Graph apps will let people listen to more music in a wider variety, making it a more social and engaged experience for which people are twice as likely to pay. Social discovery on FB is bringing people back to paying for music.

Instead of sending users to outside websites, the features can allow users to read, watch, or listen to content right inside of Facebook itself.

Canvas apps from brands like Vivo, Spotify and Hulu, built into Facebook, enable users to click a link in the Ticker or on a user’s music page to instantly listen to music on FB, while lifestyle apps like Nike+ Run Tracker or Foodspotting automatically log user’s into that app directly on Facebook.

This new generation of social apps has its own FB verbiage, with clickable verbs like “Mark is watching his own f8 keynote.”

And that same Mark reminded us that last month, “For the first time ever, in a single day we had half a billion people use Facebook.” 

The world of social will never be the same and there’s no looking back now — except maybe on Timeline.

FacebookTwitterLinkedIn