We don’t think we’re the only ones who were expecting a lot from Facebook this summer. When Mark Zuckerberg and co. introduced the Skype-integrated video chat feature over a month ago, we were promised an exciting launch season in the near future.
Since then, Facebook has shown off a few new services and applications–but it’s also had its fair share of missteps and glitches that kind of have us scratching our heads and asking “what gives?”
It seems like most of the upgrades have revolved around communication. First Skype video calling debuted, and while it’s been a long-awaited and useful feature, it failed to live up to the hype Facebook created around it. There were some changes to the way the Chat function works (which haven’t been entirely welcomed), and now the Facebook Messenger app has launched. There was also a brief glimpse of an official Facebook iPad app, but that has since quieted down without any word from the social network itself.
If this was the launch season, color us disappointed. Skype integration got things off to a good start, but the excitement over an application everyone knew was coming died down quickly. Honestly, Facebook almost fueled our interest more with the promise of new product launches. The whole thing was also overshadowed by Google+’s release, which has to be a terribly obnoxious thorn in Facebook’s side.
The Skype announcement also brought some changes to Chat… changes that at first seemed logical and now are bordering on annoying. Facebook decided to create a new right-hand sidebar listing all the contacts we chat with most regularly. Makes sense – except that you then can’t see everyone else who’s online. To patch that hole, Facebook is rolling out an update to the update, adding a scroll bar to the chat pop-up to list “More Online Friends.” Apparently people complained about the limited selection and Facebook is trying to address that. Honestly, alphabetical order worked just fine for us, and this new method just seems like more work for developers with little or no payoff for users.
Facebook is also testing embedding status updates into the chat sidebar. So along with a chat sidebar that a) lists your closest friends, b) requires you to scroll for others, it will now c) including its own mini News Feed. Yikes. It’s so meta: A Facebook inside a Facebook inside a Facebook. The purpose seems to be surfacing your important Friends’ status updates to the top of the chat bar. We knew the News Feed algorithm is something Facebook’s toyed with since its origins, but wasn’t this social network supposed to different because of its clean layout? It didn’t clutter your screen, filling every nook and cranny with features and updates and options. It’s hard to sound like an old crank when you’re talking about Facebook, but there it is.
Messenger’s launch brought concern over Facebook’s release of phone contact information. While that was a little bit of a viral panic attack, there were also complaints that the site was publishing numbers even for those that opted out. That and the site’s Messages feature (via PC, not the app) wasn’t functioning for some time, and other users complained about not being able to update their statuses.
Maybe we’re overanxious and need to be more patient. But we’re ready for what’s next, Facebook. Hint: Where’s that media hub at?
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