Open Graph apps: what’s there, what’s next
Dozens of developers have launched Open Graph applications for a range of interests and activities since Facebook expanded beyond “read,” “watch” and “listen” last week. In our tests we’ve “collected,” “answered,” “recommended,” “nommed,” “wishlisted” and more. Here’s a look at what has launched and what could be to come.
Music apps got a head start after f8 when a few partners gained the ability to auto-publish to Ticker and Timeline. Spotify has dominated since then, but now with Turntable.fm, Soundcloud and others integrating Open Graph, there could be more diversity in how users share what they listen to. Missing, of course, is leading digital music player iTunes, which could not strike a deal with Facebook in 2010 ahead of its Ping launch. Google-owned YouTube isn’t likely to integrate Open Graph either, but Vevo.com activity can be added to Timeline. Pandora, which has partnered with Facebook in the past, is not yet adopting the “frictionless sharing” model introduced at f8. The question is whether users will begin to choose Open Graph music apps over other services, or if they start to appreciate alternatives that don’t share their listening habits.
Social news readers were also early to adopt Open Graph because “read” was a pre-approved action. The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, USA Today, Yahoo News and others automatically share what users have read. Culture and entertainment sites BuzzFeed and Wetpaint let readers share their reactions with words like “awesome,” “OMG,” “cute,” “meh,” “LOL” and more. Wetpaint’s custom verbs create some odd constructions on Facebook, but some users might prefer how these sites share just the posts they take action on rather than everything they read. Popular blogs will likely integrate Open Graph to increase traffic, but it’s too soon to tell how Timeline might affect local news organizations.
There are several apps that have added Timeline features, but none so far that update Facebook’s built-in map feature. TripAdvisor, Gogobot, Wipolo and Where I’ve Been all let users indicate places they’ve traveled to on separate maps. These apps also use different verbs for the same actions — for instance “has been,” “pinned,” “added” and “checked off” instead of “visited” or “traveled to.” Yelp, which was not one of the Facebook partners launching Timeline integrations last week, is the only location-based app we’ve seen that populates Map. Foursquare has not integrated Open Graph yet either, but it is easy to imagine a Timeline app that displays all of a users’ checkins and badges.
Yummly and Foodily have canvas apps that let users share recipes using verbs like “made,” “recommend,” “crave” and “yum.” Foodspotting is a mobile app for users to “spot” the best dishes at restaurants and interact with other users’ food photos with the “want” and “nom” buttons. None of these apps use the obvious actions “cook” or “eat.” Urbanspoon’s mobile app lets users indicate that they “ate at” a restaurant, but doesn’t let users share menu items. We can imagine a number of health apps integrating Open Graph to help users track what they eat, how many calories they consume and other food habits.
Facebook partner Rotten Tomatoes has made frictionless sharing part of its web experience. Users who add the Timeline app are able to “rate” movies they’ve seen and indicate which titles they “want to see.” The same is true for French film site, Cinemur. Although Hulu users streaming video from a canvas app and Netflix users outside the U.S. can “watch” videos, there are not yet any Open Graph apps to share what you’re watching in theaters, for instance. This is an obvious opportunity for IMDB and GetGlue, which let users check into shows or movies they’re currently watching. A number of “smart TV” apps are doing similar integrations to post what people watch to Facebook.
A few apps have integrated Open Graph to let users share items they’re interested in. Shopping Mall by Payvment users can “want” things from the canvas app catalog. People can also indicate what they “own.” Lyst.com visitors can “add” clothes, footwear and accessories, and SneakPeeq’s canvas app lets users “peeq” deals on boutique items. With mobile app Pose, people can take and tag photos of their style and “love” other people’s photos. A box on Timeline will track users’ favorite fashion items and brands and display popular items they shared. As with other categories, the obvious verb “wear” hasn’t been put to use yet. This is an opportunity for other mobile apps and major brands. Some Timeline apps like GiftRocket share what users “buy,” “send” or “redeem,” but developers have to be sensitive about automatically publishing stories about purchases given that was a major issue with Beacon in 2007.
GoodReads.com has added Open Graph to help users share what they want to read and ratings of books they’ve finished. E-reader Kobo now populates users’ Timelines with books they’ve read, comments they’ve made and time spent reading. Other apps like Kindle and Nook could do something similar to promote their products on Facebook.
Only two education-oriented Open Graph apps were available at launch. Chegg lets college students add the courses they are taking to a box on Timeline. Grockit is a test-prep site that users can connect with Facebook to share when they answer questions, join study groups and earn badges. It remains to be seen how interested students will be in filling their Timelines with homework activity, but online tutorial sites and flashcard apps could find success with these new sharing mechanisms.
Many games are already very successful on Facebook, but Open Graph presents opportunities for reach and discovery that had been formerly cut off or never available. Words With Friends, CastleVille, Diamond Dash, Bubble Island and Draw My Thing are the few games that have launched Timeline integration. These use the obvious verbs “played” and “earned” to let users share their activity and achievements. We can also imagine games populating Timeline with summaries of time spent, items purchased, characters played most often or combos used most frequently. Additional means of discovery and platform-specific achievements could give Facebook an edge over other platforms like Google+.