Facebook introduces new News Feed with larger images, choice of feeds and consistent mobile design!

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Today, Facebook revealed the latest update for its News Feed feature, something that CEO Mark Zuckeberg says that helps make you see and feel things that users will care about. He believes that it should be more like a personalized newspaper that allows you to not only give you the top stories in the news and also socially relevant and local content from friends and family around you.

The new design sets out to be focused on visual design. Zuckerber says it’s focusing on three things:

- Rich stories that are visually engaging

- Choice of different feeds and dig into any topic you want

- Mobile consistency that shares the same experience across different platforms.

Screen Shot 2013 03 07 at 1.11.10 PM1 730x412 Facebook introduces new News Feed with larger images, choice of feeds and consistent mobile design

Originally launched in 2006, the News Feed has become the central place where users find information about their friends.

 

Guessing about the future of News Feed

This news follows previous speculation regarding the future of Facebook’s News Feed — TechCrunch said that the social network would launch content-specific News Feeds, while also giving out bigger photos and ads. A clue to this stemmed from something Facebook CEO said during the company’s Q4 earnings call, as noted both by TechCrunch and Business Insider:

As our news feed design evolves to show richer kinds of stories, that opens up new opportunities to offer different kinds of ads as well…One of the product design principles that we’ve always had is we want the organic content to be of the same basic types of formats as paid content, right? So, historically, advertisers want really rich things like big pictures or videos and we haven’t provided those things historically. But, one of the things that we’ve done in the last year is you’ve seen the organic news feed product that consumers use moving towards bigger pictures, richer media and I think you’ll continue to see it go in that direction. And, I think that a lot of the success of products like Instagram is because of that. It’s a very immersive – even on a small screen, just – it’s a wonderful photo product.

Seeking to change

Last November, during one of Facebook’s periodic “whiteboarding” sessions, the company revealed some insights into why there are already two separate feeds for us to consume: the News Feed and the Pages Feed. The former is the place where users will go to find the most engaging content while the latter contains content that they may want to read from Pages that are liked or subscribed to. Expanding this line of thinking and revealing different News Feeds seems to be the natural progression for Facebook and its information.

Earlier this year, Facebook also tweaked the News Feed more by showing larger images and longer previews of links in an attempt to increase engagement.

Privacy concerns abound

It can probably go without saying that today’s announcement could rile up privacy advocates and there will be Facebook Groups and Pages popping up to rally users to quit Facebook over this privacy intrusion. Back in 2011 when the most recent News Feed changes were made, there were concerns that News Feed would give others access to the private posts of people users were not friends with, giving them the ability to Like a post or add comments to it.

Of course, Facebook has denied this claim, saying “Commenting or Liking a post doesn’t change its privacy setting. If you can’t see a post because of its privacy setting, it won’t show up to you anywhere on Facebook including in your News Feed or in your ticker.”

A new look for Facebook News Feed is coming next Thursday

Mark Zuckerberg (image 001)

Mark Zuckerberg & Co. on Friday issued invites to select members of the press to “Come see a new look for News Feed.” The media event takes place next Thursday, March 7, at 10am PST, at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park. To our non-US readers: it’s an affluent town at the eastern edge of San Mateo County, in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, in the United States. This invite-only press conference comes less than two months after the company’s January 15 Graph Search launch event.

Facebook has some pretty rabid community so we’re expecting all sorts of backlash when the new News Feed goes live. The company recently updated its iOS client with in-app VoIP calling and a revamped News Feed, with the Like, Comment and Share buttons now found alongside the bottom of posts…

Here’s the invite graphics, via Business Insider.

Facebook presser (20130307, invitation)

Not much is known by way of detail except that a new look News Feed is coming.

Our guess?

The company wants to inject more ads into your News Feed.

A mockup by TechCrunch published on January 14, if true, depicts a Flipboard-like News Feed.

Next Facebook News Feed

Author Josh Constine swears he saw the updated software running on a smartphone with his own two eyes. The upcoming News Feed, he says, creates two separate feeds, each for a few different content types including news and photos.

Users navigate between them by swiping sideways on a photo that serves as a header tile filling the top quarter or so of a portrait layout iPhone screen. Below the header is a larger body tile that takes up most of the rest of the screen. From what I saw, it shows one story at a time, with text and who posted it laid on top of a full-screen image.

For example, instead of the screenshot above where most of the screen is taken up with white, blue, and gray chrome and empty space, the app looks like the mock-up below.

The mockup is Josh’s approximation from his memory so take it with a pinch of salt.

Facebook-owned Instagram earlier in the week announced it passed 100 million active users. The social networking giant also updated its iOS software development kit with better analytics, additional app usage metrics and improved APIs and has worked with carriers to roll out free or discounted Messenger access to 14 additional markets.

By the way, Facebook ranked 48th on Forbes’ Most Admired Companies list. Apple is #1 again and Twitter, which increasingly challenges Facebook, did not even make it into the top 50.

Facebook Messenger now lets anyone in the US with an iPhone call each other for free!

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After announcing the new Graph Search feature yesterday, Facebook has rolled out yet another important feature, the ability to make voice calls from the mobile app to any of your friends.

Facebook is now rolling out a new feature to US users of its Messenger app on iPhone: the ability to make free voice calls. The new feature was noticed by The Verge, which confirmed with Facebook that it was rolling out to US users in the current version of the app today.

This follows the testing of the feature in Canada earlier this month, when it also launched voice messaging in the Messages app.

To initiate a free call, you find the user that you’d like to chat with, tap the ‘i’ button on their profile and tap the Free Call button. The call will be placed over either WiFi or cellular data connections and if the user has the Facebook Messenger app installed, they will receive a push notification that allows them to see that you’re calling and accept the call.Audio 1 520x9211 220x389 Facebook Messenger now lets anyone in the US with an iPhone call each other for free

Currently, the ability to initiate these calls is only available to US (and Canadian) iPhone users as the Android app does not have the capability.

The implications of Facebook offering free voice calls over data are obviously interesting. The network has some 1 billion users in its graph and the connections between those users are getting more and more likely to be able to link you to the people that you call via voice every day. Sure, you have to be contacts with people in order to call them, but why wouldn’t you be Facebook friends with the people that you call the most? Provided that you actually use Facebook at all, that is.

The endgame here is carrier plans that include less emphasis on phone minutes (and text messages) than ever before, and a far greater focus on getting you to pay more for data. If the carriers are going to get turned into dumb pipes one product tweak at a time, you can bet that they’re going to pull every penny they can out of us on the way down.

With services like Messenger, iMessage and more already eroding texting, voice calling is also now taking the hit. If Apple were to tweak FaceTime to allow voice-only calling in addition to tweaks like this one to Messenger, it could be completely marginalized in no time at all.

If you don’t have the free call button yet, you should be getting it shortly, as long as you’re using the iPhone version of the app and you’re in the US, that is.