When Facebook bought Instagram last month for the cool price of $1 billion, my Twitter feed showed nothing else for about six hours after the announcement. It was big news, especially seeing as it was the biggest acquisition Facebook had ever made. It also caused instant chatter in the tech world, including those jokes (“Why did Zuckerberg pay $1 billion for Instagram when he could have downloaded it for free?”) which raised a slight chuckle the first time you read them but started to grate slightly when every third person was retweeting them.
It has been a big couple of weeks for Instagram. It launched on Android to a very warm reception – over five million downloads in six days - secured $50 million in funding, and then was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion (yes, with a B). That’s a lot of goings ons for a free app that just recently went multi-platform and isn’t even in its terrible twos.
But no matter what you think of the acquisition itself, there’s no denying that a lot can, and probably will, change for Instagram and its community over the coming months. Here I’m going to speculate a bit on what those changes may be.
We’ve all heard about Last.fm‘s music scrobbling service. Whenever you listen to a track – whether on the site, on your computer’s MP3 player, or even on your phone – the details immediately get uploaded to your profile on Last.fm. We now see more and more audio/video companies that try and implement this; even Facebook is getting into it with its new “real-time serendipity”.
Is this a new trend, or will people complain about how social sites are getting more and more involved in our personal lives?
Last week, Facebook hosted their latest F8 Developers Conference, where they showed off a bunch of changes they were planning to make and that they had made recently. If you use Facebook, you’ve seen some of these already (most likely, your News Feed was briefly full of people complaining about them), like the Ticker at the top-right of the News Feed and the blue triangle on the corners of posts Facebook thinks you will like.
A bigger change that has slowly been rolling out (I believe today is the big official launch) is Timeline, which replaces your profile with a scrapbook of your whole Facebook life: photos, wall posts, graduations, and whatever other information you’ve let Facebook know.
What you may be less aware of is Facebook’s new Open Graph apps. Have you tried Foodspotting for Android? When you’re out at a restaurant, you take a photo of whatever you order, write a short description or give it a rating, and upload it to the Foodspotting database via the app. The hook is that other people can see what dishes are actually available at the local places to eat by doing a location-based search – but that’s not relevant here.
See, you can also share a photo to Facebook. Not a big deal; you’ve seen that before. Most apps (particularly photo apps) have a Share button, which ties in to all your other sharing apps, like Twitter and Google+. At the moment, when you share the photo, it just gets posted to your wall with a “via Foodspotting” tag. But Facebook’s vision for this is larger.
Soon (already, actually), with your permission, apps will be able to share this data with Facebook automatically; whenever you take a picture of your meal using Foodspotting, it’ll go into the Facebook database. Maybe it won’t be posted to your wall, but your friends will be able to view everything you’ve snapped via a box on your
More interestingly, it’ll look out for “real-time serendipity”: if a friend goes to the same restaurant a few days later, it’ll let you know, and post that fact to the News Feed (“Fred and Joanna both ate at Wagamama’s this week”). Imagine this scaled to all your apps: the books you read on Google Books, the music you listen to on Spotify, the blogs you visit with your RSS reader… all shared with Facebook, so it can look for trends with your friends.
Some find this creepy. What do you think?
TweetDeck is one of the most popular Twitter clients, having started on the desktop before moving onto the web and onto mobile. One of its high points is its ability to create a custom experience tailored to you depending on your usage of social networks.
TweetDeck supports Twitter, Facebook, Buzz and Foursquare on Android, just like its desktop counterparts. It also fits into TweetDeck’s online sync/accounts system so you can carry your accounts straight onto your handset with minimal setup. (more…)