Just as the Standing Dog social media team came down from our Google+ high last week, Facebook announced it would be launching “something awesome.” Now, we don’t use the term “awesome” lightly over here, so we prepared ourselves with helmets just in case Facebook decided to blow our minds. A Facebook Event popped up in my notifications inviting me to watch a live feed of the mind-blowing announcement from Facebook Headquarters today at noon. I accepted. So did 102,059 others.
Come 12:00, I sat glued in front of my computer with my earbuds in. My fingers hovered over the keyboard, ready to live tweet whatever it was Mark Zuckerberg was about to unveil. At 12:05, I refreshed my browser, thinking my sluggish Internet connection was the cause of my blank video screen. By 12:10, my fingers were shaking. Was I missing the brain-boggling awesomeness? Had Facebook just announced that they’d be using augmented reality to make it look like our friends were sitting right in front of us as we chatted?
And at 12:15, my screen flashed. I saw reporters and cameramen milling about long tables where twenty-somethings and forty-somethings alike sat with their laptops powered up. People hushed and cameras flashed as the face of Facebook, a T-shirt clad Zuckerberg himself, headed to the podium where he traded his Gatorade for a microphone.
He left us in suspense about the future of Facebook as he went on to talk about how far it’s come since its infancy. In Chapter 1 of Facebook, it was all about connections—connections with current friends and classmates, childhood friends, long-lost lovers. As more people joined, we connected with friends of friends, or just the random guy we met at a party because he said, “Facebook me.” And before we knew it, our moms were on Facebook, writing on our walls to ask if we’d ever made that doctor’s appointment.
“That chapter of Facebook is pretty much done,” Zuckerberg said. “We just hit 750 million users, but we didn’t report that because that’s not the metric to watch right now.”
While I found it interesting that he offhandedly announced Facebook hit 750 million users, I was more interested in what Chapter 2 would bring. Which is where that “something awesome” comes into play.
“The underlying trend, more powerful than the number of people signing up, is the rate at which they’re sharing,” he said. “Four-billion things are shared every day.” To keep up with the 750 million talking-animal-video-sharing users, Zuckerberg turned to new social apps, which led to the big reveal:
Zuckerberg’s list of “Something(s) Awesome”
- Group Chat
- New Chat Design
- Video Calling
When Zuckerberg said Facebook Chat was one of the most-loved features on Facebook, I disagreed. I much prefer the Creep-On-Your-Ex-Boyfriend’s-Photos feature or the Untag-Your-Unflattering-Photos option. And when it comes to chatting, I opt for Google’s Gchat, it also allows me to chat with more than one person at a time in the same chat box. But Facebook’s new Group Chat feature might put me back on the fence. While Facebook already had a chat option within Facebook Groups, the new feature allows users to pick and choose who they want to chat with within the same chat box.
Awesome Rating: 5
Our helmets weren’t needed for the next new feature: a redesigned chat list. Now, instead of clicking on the chat bar in the lower right-hand corner to see a list of your online and idle friends, a “buddy list” will live in a column on the side, but only for people who have the screen width to spare. Something tells me my 11-inch MacBook Air doesn’t fall into the screen-width-to-spare category.
Awesome Rating: 3
But the final “something awesome,” Video Calling, lived up to its awesome potential. Thanks to a recent partnership with Skype, Facebook users can now call their Facebook friends and have a face-to-digital-face conversation without leaving Facebook. No extra subscriptions, no new usernames, no need to toggle between various programs. Just click, call, and hope they answer. And if they don’t? No problem, just leave them a video voicemail they can watch when they sign on. You better believe we tested this one in the office as soon as the announcement was made.
Awesome Rating: 10
But we don’t recommend opening video voicemails in front of your boss.
Potential for Awkwardness Rating: 11
So there you have it. Zuckerberg’s launched “something awesome” and it may or may not have blown your minds. As a self-proclaimed Facebook addict, I can say I’m pretty excited about the new features, but I’m still holding out for a Facebook augmented reality chat option, complete with Smell-o-Vision. Get on it, Zuck.