Excluding Instagram, the social networking giant Facebook currently counts five iPhone and iPad apps in the App Store: in addition to the main Facebook client and the recently revamped Messenger, there’s also Pages Manager, Camera and Poke, the latter an ill-fated attempt to counter the rising popularity of “disappear” apps like Snapchat.
They’re all available free of charge but only the main Facebook app and the new Messenger have managed to pick up steam.
Pages Manager is somewhat useful for those who manage Pages on Facebook, Camera was quickly forgotten and Poke was a joke to begin with. Not content with standing still, Facebook is seemingly reading a host of standalone native apps on mobile this year.
These apparently include a Flipboard-killer said to use summarization technologies to deliver a sharply focused news-reading experience, among a few others…
Mark Zuckerberg said in an earnings call two weeks after the new Messenger launched that “we expect to develop more of these services to help people share” and The Verge has learned that Facebook this year wants to “produce a number of slick, standalone apps designed for mobile”.
The publication speculated as to what these apps might be:
Reader – Zuckerberg made it no secret that he wants Facebook to become a “personalized newspaper” of sorts and AllThingsD claimed the app would include functionality similar to that of Pocket and Instapaper.
There will also be a button in the web interface attached next to News Feed stories allowing you to save stories and access them later via a user’s Facebook apps menu. A Re/code report earlier this week reiterated that such a feature is in the works and up for an announcement later in January.
Open Graph Search – Facebook rolled out a new Graph Search tool to the web interface a year ago and it’s still nowhere to be found on mobile. The feature taps Facebook’s vast database to enable interesting searches such as ‘photos with me and Jane in 2013’, ‘friends who like iDownloadBlog’, ‘Sushi restaurants my friends like’ and some such.
Rumor has it Facebook’s been testing an iPhone client with Graph Search enabled, but so far nothing. Maybe a standalone Graph Search app is in the works instead?
Calendar – And why not? That’s how Google created a platform around iOS, by releasing core apps for the iPhone and iPad such as Gmail, Search and Google+, in addition to Google Play Books, Music and Movies storefronts.
Facebook Events are popular for remembering people’s birthdays and apps like Sunrise Calendar indicate there’s demand so a nicely done dedicated app could prove popular.
I’d also add the following:
Wallet – This could be huge. Facebook already has a payment platform that gets mostly used to buy virtual gifts in Facebook games. Given the 1+ billion installed user base, the brand power and Facebook’s sheer reach, a payment solution of sorts could go a long way toward establishing Facebook as a major player in this space.
In other Facebook news, the company just unveiled a new Twitter-like feature which puts talked about topics inside a new Trending section in the top right corner of your News Feed. As depicted above, these include hot TV shows, events and articles shared by your friends and Pages and public figures you follow.
The feature is currently rolling out on the web in select countries and Facebook says that “we are going to continue to test on mobile”.
Zuckerberg will appear – for the first time – at the Mobile World Congress next month. He’ll be attending the industry show for a good reason so announcing a 2014 new mobile strategy alongside a host of new native apps sounds plausible, don’t you think?
If these are designed as nicely as Messenger, I’ll be giving them a shot for sure. In the meantime, I just want an iPhone client with that gorgeous, clean Messenger design and Open Graph Search.