New Facebook Changes – A Laymans Summary

More as a way to summarise the updates for myself, here is a review of the changes announced by team Zuckerburg yesterday. There appear to be two sides to the changes – on the one hand we have the changes that ‘Joe Blogs Facebook user’ will care about and on the other, the new Open Graph API that (Facebook hope) will have developers drooling over and will deliver “real time serendipity”.

Facebook themselves split the changes in to three; Your Cover, Your Stories & Your Apps.

Your Cover – Is the header to the new ‘Timeline’ profile that features a main, banner like photo that Facebook say should ‘represent you best’.

 Underneath your header there will now be an area all about YOU called ‘Your Stories’. This section of a users Timeline will detail photos, posts, videos and anything else that may tell people about who you are, what you do and what you’re about.

‘Your Apps’ will be at the lower end of your Timeline. This is the part that Facebook were perhaps the most excited about. Basically Facebook will now be partnering with any service that they might be able to connect with Facebook allowing your Timeline you be an interest aggregator. Users can add the Spotify app for example which will allow your Facebook friends to see which tracks you have listened to.

A whole host of new apps will be introduced including ones from news sources like The Guardian and The Independent, online video and TV streaming  through Netflix or Hulu and other music apps such as Mixcloud and Soundcloud.

Open Graph

Developers will now be able to tap in to Facebook in ways that weren’t possible before using the updated Open Graph API. As Facebook say on this new way of working “The opportunities are endless, such as building an app for runners to share their routes and achievements, photographers to feature the photos they take, and music lovers to share their playlists and top albums with friends. Develop Open Graph apps that will make Timeline the personal, expressive page we believe it can be.”

The new developer options will be based around what Facebook call a Graph Rank which will give prominence in news feeds to apps that users find engaging. New app analytics will allow developers to monitor their apps activity and so optimise apps for an increased Graph Rank.

Conclusion:

I don’t think all these changes amount to the world changing, redefinition of social networking that sites such as Mashable would have had us believe in the pre-launch hype.

Most people use Facebook as either a simple communication tool, whether through comments, FB messages or FB chat. They like to look at other folks photos or if they have a bit of time to spare, flick down through the most recent status updates. But how often does one visit another user’s profile page? Are you really bothered about going to someone else’s ‘Timeline’ to find out all about them? Or they use it to have a nosey at other user’s pictures…

Facebook is basing its latest direction on the assumption that users will become content creaters. It’s going to take a long time to get your timeline looking good. You;re going to have to choose which photo’s best portray you (or how you’d like to be perceived). You need to opt in to each of the apps you want to interact with and feed your profile with regular ‘stories’ about what you’re doing.

Maybe this is exactly what people have been waiting for…however I fear it might lead to a graveyard of features and apps and half completed Timelines. We’ll see. Once i’ve been able to have a proper play with it then the new Facebook’s usefulness may become clearer.

I think the top two comments on Facebook’s own blog sum up the divide in opinion perfectly…

Looks like the comment ‘the world changes, get used to it’ has proved the most popular with Facebookers.

Here’s a video that Robert Scoble took from the front row of the Faceboook F8 presentation

Myspace Pulls The Rug From Under Spotify’s Feet – Summary of Todays Big Myspace Update

Today has seen the launch of the latest incarnation of Myspace Music. Unlike previous updates, these are not simply a few design changes but a complete shift in the News Corporation owned company’s offering.

Where Spotify has led the way in streamed music, Myspace appears to have built on this with a much larger music library and, this is the hook, for free. Music streaming from Myspace will continue to be ad funded but crucially, unlike Spotify, adverts will not interrupt listeners between songs. Courtney Holt, President of Myspace Music told BBC 6 Music:

“We provide streaming audio, video, a comprehensive suite of artist tools, original content and programming all wrapped up together in one nice package”

Also now available on the new improved site will be DRM free MP3 downloads in conjunction with Apple iTunes.

Possibly though, this move has come too late with Last.fm seeing around 40 million monthly users of its music streaming service and Spotify gaining a great deal of press and publicity. Spotify has also made music more social by allowing playlist sharing. Myspace has taken note of this and now also offers users the option of sharing their Myspace playlists (although for some reason they are currently featuring a playlist by that epitome of d-list narcissistic vanity, Jordan).

I’m sure it’s in the pipeline but I look forward to the iphone app (as they have just partnered with Apple for the DRM free downloads, or desktop player. What Spotify and Last.fm have done really well is allow users to listen to their music as easily as posibble, Last.fm with it’s ‘scrobbling‘ and Spotify with its desktop application and both with their respective iphone apps. I envisage a whole lot more partnering if they are to gain back market share. Last.fm did this well when it partnered with X-box Live and saw 1 million additional users sign up in just a few days (300 new users per minute). We are in the age of collaboration for mutual gain.

Fiat are the first to be involved with the new playlist function with following their successful ‘500c’ Spotify playlist. Their Myspace page allows users to select a playlist of song from any of the last 16 years, to mark the 16th birthday of the Fiat Punto. They only have three friends though so far…

3 To Bundle Spotify Mobile With First Android Handset ‘HTC Hero’

Every other post here seems to be about Spotify these days…

Mobile operator 3 UK has announced plans to include Spotify Premium for mobile on their first Android handset, the HTC Hero. Thats the good news, the bad news is you have to have a 24 month contract to secure it.

Users will have to pay £99 for the handset and 3 will include 24 months of subscription to Spotify Mobile for free.

Read more on the Spotify blog

Read more on the 3 website

spotify on 3

Spotify To Take On Myspace By Allowing Music Uploads?

spotify vs myspace

One of the (few) good points remaining that Myspace has to offer is it’s music upload function. Artists can, with relative ease, create a profile and upload their music to their page. This then allows users of Myspace to listen to tracks and discover favourite new bands.

Spotify has now hinted that it too will soon be allowing artists to upload their own tracks to the music streaming service.  Here’s what they say on their website:

“We are constantly adding albums and tracks to Spotify and want to offer our users all of the music in the world. We aim to release an uploading platform relatively soon so that content owners can partner with us easily.”

Spotify is currently allowing artists to register their interest and no date is set nor details given on how this will work. It will probably however only allow labels or signed artists to upload rather than every Tom, Dick and Arctic Monkey to upload music.

Watch this space!

Spotify Mobile App – Now Available in The App Store!

spotify

On July 27th 2009 Spotify announced that they had finished work on an iPhone app to allow premium users to stream Spotify to their iPhone. The only problem was, they had to wait for Apple to give the app the thumbs up. As everybody knows, in authorising this app for the iPhone, apple may well have been shooting themselves in the foot. But by not authorising it…well that could have been a PR disaster! They did authorise the app but it takes a while for this to then become available to the public

Well today it is available! (Although it’s rated 12+?!)

Here’s what they say:

We’ve worked hard to bring you the same great Spotify experience you’re already familiar with to your phone. The mobile apps will allow you to take the entire Spotify catalogue and put it in your pocket. You can use our ‘offline mode’ to make playlists available at all times, even when no connection is available. Perfect for that ride on the tube or long flight across the Atlantic.

Launching these apps is our first step at going mobile and we’d like to thank all the people who worked hard on making this happen as well as all the partners involved in the process.

We’ve set up a mobile section with more details and we look forward to hearing your thoughts. We know that you’ve been eagerly awaiting this launch and we appreciate the patience – now go out and get that app!

spotify itunes

You can now download the app from iTunes or for Android  from the Android Market here

Read more on the Spotify blog

Spotify Appoint Ex-Skype Director To Disrupt US Market

spotify

Spotify have annouced on their blog the appointment of Faisal Galaria as their new Global Head of New Business Development.

Breaking the US market will be key to ensuring Spotify becomes a real contender to iTunes. Faisal’s experience with first Skype and more recently as Managing Director International of Kayak.com (where he was  responsible for building the EMEA and Asian businesses), will put the music streaming company in a perfect position.

At Skype, Faisal engineered partnerships with BT in the UK and Time Warner in the US. A partnership with Time Warner (the worlds 3rd largest media and entertainment conglomerate) would certainly help Spotify’s introduction to the US market.

Whilst at Kayak.com he oversaw the expansion of the site to nine countries.

Speaking on the Spotify blog Faisal said of his new position, “I am passionate about building disruptive companies. Spotify is changing the way we all enjoy music and the old paradigms of music ownership. It’s going to be fun.”

A tweet from the new man on 28th July whilst still at Kayak.com commented on the recent Apple denyal of the Google Voice app. Faisal said of this “Shame on Apple blocking applications on a phone you’ve already paid for.”

Did he already have a certain Spotify app on his mind?!

So as his latest tweet says -Faisal “has been Spotified”

Spotify Demo Their New iPhone App

It’s here at last! Well almost….Well it’s being demo’d anyway. Which is exciting. There has been lots of talk about how Spotify can best transfer users of the free version  to the paid for, premium version. Well the new iPhone app is only available to those using the premium service, so Spotify’s accountants will surely be clearing space in the bank vaults for all that money about to come flooding in.

Key features summary:

  • Detailed, one touch track info mid play
  • Standard controls and playback
  • Music available offline! – Select the playlist you want to make available offline and Spotify will automatically synchronise any added, moved or deleted music when online.
  • ‘Airplane Mode’ on the iPhone allows network connection to be disabled helping demonstrate the ‘offline’ festure.
  • Playback is automatically resumed from where you last left off.
  • When a trackis added to your desktop playlist, this update is INSTANTLY (wow) pushed to your iPhone
  • Search functionality

SHOULD BE AVAILABLE IN THE APP STORE SHORTLY!

Read more here ate the Spotify blog