Facebook fired a major blow against social networking rival Google+ today, announcing the integration of streaming music and video to the service, as well as a new “Timeline” feature that creates an easy way to display users' Facebook activity over time.
Both the new media capabilities and the “Timeline” leverage Facebook’s years of work in social networking. Neither feature would be nearly as meaningful if introduced at Google+, because that service has relatively few users, and the users that are there have a no significant history on the service yet. (Google+ was only announced in late June.)
The moves show Facebook playing to its strengths, leveraging its past success, and making a powerful statement that it believes it will take Google years to get its social network to the place that Facebook is at today.
New Open Graph Media Apps
Facebook’s new media capabilities are the more meaningful part of today’s announcements because they extend the concept of the “social graph” to include real-time interaction among users. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained that where you would normally “like” something your friend is watching or listening to, you can now just turn on the same stream and begin watching or listening to the song or video yourself.
For instance, if you see in Facebook’s new Ticker at the right of the screen that one of your close friends is watching a Netflix video or a Spotify music track, you can click on the name of the song or movie and begin listening or watching in real time with your friend.
That some functionality also works with gaming apps, news apps, and what Facebook is calling lifestyle apps (cooking, exercise, etc.).
While Zuckerberg mostly used the web version of Facebook for demos, he stressed that all the new functionality would be available for mobile phones as well.
This new capability will change the experience of using Facebook in a very fundamental way. It will have the more immediate, real-time feel of Twitter--when you merely “like” something, your friends might see that sometime later. But if you click on a stream to tune in, your friend will know that immediately.
New ‘Timeline’ Feature
The new “Timeline” historical function in Facebook answers a need for people who have been storing information at the Facebook “scrapbook” for a number of years and need to recall, review, or share some of it. “Timeline is the story of your life,” says Zuckerberg. "It contains all your stories, all your apps, and a new way to express who you are.”
You can also create a number of filters to your Timeline: For instance, you can create a history of your music listening and interests over time. Or you could create an “exercise” timeline that reviews your health and fitness activities, and those of your workout partners.
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