Special Report: F8

This year for the fourth time Facebook held F8, its somewhat-annual event held for developers and  entrepreneurs that are building the social web. Last year’s event made headlines when Facebook launched the “Like” button and  released the Open Graph, a way for all third party websites to integrate Facebook as a publishing tool. This year’s event was no different, with Facebook releasing a hand ful of new products– some expected, but some a complete surprise. Here are some of the coming changes that will be rolled out to everyone in the next few months:

  New and  improved profiles, featuring Timeline

This year at F8 Facebook announced its most radical redesign of Facebook profiles to date, Timeline. The brainchild of   Nicholas Felton and  drop.io’s Sam Lessin, Timeline is a whole new way of visualizing your Facebook information– starting with the day you were born. Timeline allows you (and  others) to see your Facebook information as organized by major events in your life. Click a button and  you’ll be able to see everything you did last year, your first year of college, etc.

There are three parts to the new Facebook Timeline: your cover, your stories, and  your apps.

Cover
The first thing you’ll notice about the new Facebook profile is the cover– a top heavy land scape image that lives at the top of your profile. As Facebook says, “fill this wide, open space with a unique image that represents you best. It’s the first thing people see when they visit your timeline.”

Stories
Stories makes up a major component of the new timeline feature. With stories you can share and  highlight your most memorable posts, photos and  life events on your timeline. And it’s searchable by year for the ultimate nostalgia experience.

Apps
Facebook’s redesign of the profile hopes to push Facebook as a platform more by putting apps front and  center on your profile instead of the news feed. We’ll get to that in a bit, but for now Facebook best describes the changes: ” The movies you quote. The songs you have on repeat. The activities you love. Now there’s a new class of social apps that lets you express who you are through all of the things you do.”

A whole new class of social apps

In the past, Facebook apps were often more trouble than they were worth– confusing permissions, access to your wall, and  who knows whom you were allowing access to your private information. Now with the integration of Facebook apps directly onto your profile, Facebook applications are looking like they will be a much more streamlined experience than before. Among the changes to the profile and  the open graph is the inclusion of Facebook Gesture, which gives developers the ability to create new action buttons using whatever language they can dream up.

But Facebook gestures is only one part of the puzzle– now that Facebook users can watch, listen, read, cook, Netflix, Hulu, etc, Facebook is planning on becoming a content hub for all forms of media. In socializing everything across it can, Facebook aims to ultimately help with content discovery. And with integration across a number of partners– from Spotify to Netflix to Hulu– it’s almost guaranteed Facebook will continue to announce more partners as they come.

  An updated news feed/ticker

While it wasn’t officially announced at F8, Facebook rolled out some changes to the news feed and  ticker prior to the developer’s conference. Now instead of working like a rolling timeline, Facebook will act more like a newspaper, collecting items with the most activity as “stories”. The ticker shows updates in realtime as they are happening in addition to showing what media your friends are consuming (if they have connected).

Other facts from F8

– Facebook appears to be organizing it’s product around what people internally at Facebook are calling   Zuck’s Law– the idea that every year people share twice as much content online.
– Facebook is now at 800 million users.
–   The Wall Street Journal recently launched a Facebook application, WSJ Social.
–   What Facebook’s changes mean for marketers.

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