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

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 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

BBC iPlayer Lets You Share Your Favourite TV Moments

Ever had that conversation with someone about your previous night’s TV viewing? You both start attempting to describe your favourite sketch from Little Britain or a particular item from the 6 o’Clock News.

Well…Now if I have this conversation online, or via electronic means, I can share the exact scene with my friends (if the programme/film in question was shown on BBC1 or BBC2).

The BBC have just introduced a brilliant new feature to their ever popular iPlayer which allows users to link to an exact point in the programme. They have even developed their own URL shortening service to facilitate sharing on microblogging platforms such as Twitter. Here’s the example the BBC use:

“For example, I loved Steve Hughes in Michael McIntyre’s brilliant Comedy Roadshow – see him here: http://bbc.co.uk/i/lbtbg/?t=16m51s

When they allow users to do this with radio shows then we may really see a paradigm shift in the use of radio. A Spotify-like service could emerge from the BBC linking or live streaming exact snippets of live material from BBC R1’s Live Lounge or Glastonbury. Exciting stuff.

Hopefully the others (ITV, Five, C4, Sky) will catch on quick and enable similar functionality. Unfortunately their advertisers may not like the idea of viewers circumnavigating the commercial breaks.

Read further on the BBC Internet Blog

Smartphones to stream Myspace? (except the iPhone)

The next breakthrough in digital music will surely be streamed mobile music. Will this make MP3 players redundant? Only time will tell.

Today Mashable reported on a presentation given by Adobe concerning the implementation of Flash 10 to Android, Palm, WebOS, Windows Mobile and Symbian. The obvious exclusion on this list is of course the ubiquitous iPhone.

The actual wording in the presentation states:

“Flash Player 10 for smartphone-class devices to be made available in beta at (the) MAX conference in October”

adobe flash

So this indicates that the update will happen between the 4th-7th October 2009.

And why is this being reported as social media news? Well the best thing about Myspace is is music and video catalogue. The worst thing (to me) about Myspace is that I can’t stream my favourite new music straight to my phone as their music player currently uses Flash 10.

Myspace logo

If the proposed smartphone update goes ahead, and it does allow music streaming from Myspace then this could well be the kiss of life to a dying social behemoth. It may also be a cause for concern for Spotify and Last.fm, both of which have released music streaming apps for mobile devices but neither of which have the user base of Myspace.

So…watch this space.