f8 unveils Facebook Timeline and other apps, will it stave off G+?

by Jac Thurmond

Facebook has some new competition in town with Google+ opening up to the general public – which may or may not be the reason we got hit with a load of new updates at yesterday’s f8 (Facebook’s big state-of-the-company conference).

How great are they doing with the new competition at hand? Well, Mark Zuckerberg hired Andy Samberg of Lonely Island and Saturday Night Live fame to open the conference, so it’s not like they’re doing terribly in the whole money-making scheme of things (even if your mileage may vary on the funny):

But obviously, if Facebook is going to remain the number one social networking site for most of the internet-using world, they can’t exactly rest on their laurels. Hence the development a few new apps we’re apparently being hit within the next few months.

For one thing, you may havea noticed that your feed is looking a little bit different lately, at least in the way it sorts info. Facebook’s blog says on the redesign:

“Now, News Feed will act more like your own personal newspaper. You won’t have to worry about missing important stuff any more. All your news will be in a single stream with the most interesting stories featured at the top. If you haven’t visited Facebook for a while, the first things you’ll see are top photos and statuses posted while you’ve been away.”

Of course, it would be interesting to know what algorithm Facebook uses to determine “interesting” posts– personal experience, I just had a whole lot of one-off “thank you” responses for a vague acquaintence’s birthday dumped on my wall. There’s probably going to be a bit of a learning curve involved.

And then there’s the Open Graph app platform, which is Facebook’s latest attempt to bring streaming music to its service. Spotify, Rhapsody, MOG, Rdio, Soundcloud, Earbits, Vevo, Slacker Radio and Songza are apparently in the mix, so it should be a service to watch even if Spotify’s been having issues keeping metal record labels on its roster. Still, check it out, it looks like it could be a cool service for smaller and upcoming bands:

It’s the addition of a newfangled app called the Timeline, though, that’s really raising some eyebrows. Basically, it’s your standard archival app that sorts information into chronological order and displays it in an easy-to-understand fashion. That’s every break-up, make-up, triumph, defeat, crash-and-burn, marriage, second marriage and ill-informed decision involving a camera and alcohol that’s ever made it onto your wall and stuck. And all categorised in an easy-to-sort format.

If you really, really can’t wait to get your hands on the app, Mashable has a how-to on activating Facebook Timeline.

But yeah, for people who practically lived their misspent youth on the internet, complete with photographic evidence, this might not exactly be the most welcome innovation. Time to give that delete button a workout.

The real question, though, is going to be whether or not these new features will be able to stop the trickle of users over to G+, or whether it’ll encourage more and more people to leave the service. Adopting G+’s circles innovation is a step in the right direction, but it’ll all hinge on whether users actually find these changes useful and start taking advantage of new features.

Although we have to say, if security issues haven’t gotten people to leave Facebook yet, it’s probably going to take a lot more than a redesign to send it off in the Myspace direction.

Are you excited for Facebook’s new features? Or does it seem like they’re throwing a whole lot of nothing at us to compete with G+? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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