Aimlessly scrolling through Facebook could soon become a game of tapping as Facebook tests a new format that mixes Stories with the traditional News Feed posts. After reverse engineering of the app showed off the potential feature, Facebook confirmed that it’s in the early stages of prototyping a News Feed that is more like Stories than the current scroll-through feed.
The prototype navigation, spotted by some finagling of the app code by reverse engineering guru Jane Machon Wong, is activated when a user taps on a post to view in full-screen mode. After tapping on a single post, the feed takes on a full-screen format where users navigate by swiping left, much like the current format for watching Stories. Alternately, if the user doesn’t swipe, the app automatically moves to the next post after six seconds, according to Wong.
Facebook is testing to turn News Feed into Story Feed pic.twitter.com/83H7VWcgmD
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) April 15, 2019
News Feed posts maintain a similar look with the tools to like, comment, and share intact, while the navigation is overhauled. Sponsored posts also appear inside the carousel, much like ads inside the usual news feed. Unlike the current option to save a status to both the News Feed and Stories, News Feed posts still look like the familiar post.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg suggested during last spring’s quarterly earnings report that Stories are a major focus for the social media company, after the format saw jumps in growth. Since then, the network has added several different features to Stories, but mixing the News Feed posts with Stories could get the full screen, slideshow-like posts in front of even more viewers as well as help monetize the format.
An update making the swipe navigation mandatory may not go over well with users — after all, when Instagram accidentally released a test of similar swipe navigation, users were quick to complain. Leaving both options intact with the Stories-like navigation available by clicking on any News Feed post may be a better option for pleasing both the Stories fans and the users bent on keeping the traditional Feed intact.
While Facebook confirmed the new style of navigation is a prototype, the company says it isn’t testing the feature publicly yet and has more work to do if the feature will see a widespread rollout. Last week, Facebook also confirmed a test that would bring Messenger chats back into the native Facebook app.
As a prototype feature, the update may never see a wide rollout or may see major changes before coming to a public version. Early tests and prototypes, however, offer a glimpse at what updates the social media giant is considering next.
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