Facebook has introduced a hell lot of new features over the past few days and today, they have added a few more by making a sweeping changes to the news feed. I personally love the New Facebook and am sure many geeks would love it as well. But what about the vast majority of non-geeks and new users? There is every chance that they would feel overwhelmed by whatever they are being fed with by Facebook’s engineers. Just a couple of days back, Ujjwal argued that Facebook is heading Myspace way and we have more reasons to believe that now.
Before we get into the analysis, let’s have a look at the new(er) features introduced today – Smarter News Feed and Ticker.
It’s been a while that Facebook had multiple tabs for the News feed. Users had to swap between “Top News” and “Most Recent” tabs to go through the status updates from friends. Now, Facebook is convinced that having multiple tabs is a wrong idea and has gone ahead and merged them both into a single feed. This is quite useful, specially when the user is logging on after a long break. He will now get to see the most important stories updated by his friend during the break (as decided by Facebook) right at the top and then the most recent stories below.
Top Stories are indicated by a small blue triangle at top left corner. This is so much like Gmail’s Priority inbox. Facebook has been pretty good with the algorithm which decides what stories are important. Even now it does, but now, all the top stories won’t be grouped together for your easy referral.
And the second big change announced today is the Ticker. A real time stream of content on the right sidebar which floats down the page as you scroll down, giving you the updates as they happen. Hovering (or right clicking) on any of the activity will show a pop-up with relevant information. For instance, if a friend liked some photo, you’ll see that on the pop-up, or if a friend commented on some update, you would see the complete thread.
New Facebook = Old Facebook + Google Plus + Twitter + Foursquare + GMail
If someone is logging on to Facebook after a long break, he is sure to get lost with the flurry of changes. It is not that Facebook has been pro-active into releasing so many new features. Rather, they have been forced to do so by their competitors.
- Facebook ticker is a copy of Twitter Timeline
- Revamped Lists are copied from Google+ Circles
- Facebook checkin is a direct take on Foursquare
- Top Stories in News feed is just like GMail’s Priority Inbox
- Facebook Mail was a failed attempt to take on Gmail
- New sharing options are inspired from Google+
- Subscribe is inspired from Twitter & Google+
- Change from 500 to 5000 characters limit is again inspired from Google+
- Notification pop-ups on Ticker is just like the Google+ Notifications
- Skype integration was a take on Google+ hangouts
The issue is not with copying of features from competitors. Heck, Google+ itself was accused to be a copy of Facebook with improved Privacy features. But the issue is that most of these changes are forced. Facebook was losing traction and hold (how much ever little it was) ever since Google+ was announced. Though Google+ was just in field trial, most of the non-geeks felt it was too complex (with Circles) and didn’t bother to return. And now, Facebook is falling into a trap set by its rivals – by mimicking the complex features of their competitors. Facebook is no more simple.