15 May What’s Next for Facebook
Yesterday, Facebook announced the roll out of a new update for iOS apps that will change the way users see their newsfeeds. The new “context cards” will hover over your newsfeed with posts from friends that are relevant to what you’re doing or posting. For example: If I post pictures from the concert I’m attending, the context cards may show my friends who are checked in at the event, posted photos, or created a status about it. Only a few updates will appear at a time and it’ll look something like this:
A Facebook spokesperson explained this new feature on the blog Inside Facebook.
‘These cards can help you discover information about where you are or what to do next, or inspire conversations with your friends around you. This feature respects all existing privacy settings, and the card will only show you information that you could already see elsewhere on Facebook. The feature also injects some color into the Facebook app. Within these new info cards, friends’ birthdays will be shown in blue (and include a prompt to write on their timeline), location information red, photos yellow.”
Yesterday in a Tech Crunch article about the update, Josh Constine said, “By reacting to what’s top of mind for users, Facebook could unlock new utility, entertainment, and monetization potential.”
Constine went on to compare the update to a feature on twitter and a set up for an attack on foursquare. Based on Facebook’s recent push towards targeted ads, it isn’t too far of a leap to think that they will use these cards to promote businesses and events nearby.
It’s worth mentioning that while Facebook is still one of the biggest social networks by any scale that matters, its use is ultimately declining and could eventually be abandoned for more streamlined platforms like Instagram. According to a study by GlobalWebIndex, Facebook’s use is down 6%, and the multi-billion dollar company is doing everything possible to avoid going the way of MySpace (which I was surprised to learn is only down 8%).
So what does that have to do with anything? Well, it begs the question: will Facebook’s new iOS update even matter? The implementation of Foursquare-like elements in a more streamlined interface will only take the app so far if, as the GlobalWebIndex survey suggests, users are already fleeing for the next big thing.
In my opinion, there will always be something new and fresh but Facebook has become too intertwined in communication basics, both professional and personal, to dissolve. This update might end up being a blip on the long line of Facebook refreshes we’ve all endured, but it is a demonstration of the company’s persistence to stay relevant.
If your app has already updated and you’ve seen the new context cards we’d love to hear from you! What do you think? Are they worth the hype?