Facebook today announced a deal with Rovi Corporation to use Rovi Video, a database of information about movies, TV shows and celebrities that can be used to improve search and discovery across its platform.
Rovi’s data helps power experiences like on-screen TV guides, iTunes, Flixter, BestBuy.com and many others. Facebook has been building out its “entity graph,” which are all the people, places and things that are represented with pages. Users primarily connect to these objects by Liking them, but now Facebook is making a push for users to do so through actions like “watch/want to watch,” “read/want to read” or “listen/want to listen.” Improving the metadata associated with these objects could give Facebook new opportunities when it comes to search, News Feed relevance, recommendations and offering new features for developers
Before the Rovi deal, Facebook used Wikipedia and Freebase to populate information about movies, TV shows and other entities, for example for the module on the “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” page below. However, those sources are community-curated and not necessarily as reliable as what Rovi provides for many of the largest companies in the world.
Facebook’s hold on the social login market could be decreasing as more consumers sign into third-party sites with Google, Twitter and other accounts, according to a study by Janrain.
Janrain offers a social login widget that websites can use to give users options for signing in with Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo or more than two dozen other services. Each quarter, the company looks at what consumers are choosing to use on the sites that use its social login product. For the second quarter in a row, Facebook’s lead decreased and Google gained. This does not necessarily mean that fewer users are logging into sites with Facebook, but the overall percentage of users doing so has declined.
Facebook claims a 46 percent share of overall logins through Janrain, and Google has 34 percent. Among the gaming and retail verticals, however, Facebook’s share is higher — close to 60 percent — and has even increased over the last quarter. For media and music sites, Facebook claims around 50 percent of logins, but Twitter and Google are becoming more popular.
Facebook today announced some changes to make it easier for developers to add Open Graph actions to their apps, including making it possible for apps to publish common actions without any configuration.
Facebook made it so that actions such as read, watch, listen and run — known as “common” or “built-in” actions — can be implemented directly using code it provides. Developers no longer have to configure these actions in the platform’s Open Graph tools. Developers can simply choose the action they want to include and the SDK their app uses, and Facebook will generate the appropriate code in the API reference section of its developer site. However, all app actions, including common ones, will need to be reviewed and approved by Facebook before going live.
Facebook addresses privacy questions about Home – Facebook today shared its answers to common privacy questions users might have about Home, the social network’s latest development for Android. Home is optional software that makes Facebook features more integrated into a user’s device. The company says it does not have any of a user’s privacy settings and that all data collected by the service is covered by Facebook’s existing Data Use Policy. Home collects information about how people use the service, such as whether they Like a photo, send a message or launch an app. That information is stored for 90 days in order for Facebook to understand how people are responding to the app and how it could be improved. Facebook says Home does not treat location information any differently than the existing Facebook app. Users can also turn off location services completely. More about Home and privacy is available here.
Facebook stock up after Home announcement – Facebook shares closed at $27.39 this week, up 7 percent since Monday. The stock hasn’t been above $27 per share since March 14. Shares fell beneath $26 earlier in the week as rumors swirled about whether Facebook was launching its own phone or developing a modified version of Android. Wall Street seemed pleased with the company’s decision to release software that could run on a number of devices to make them more social, while also partnering with HTC, AT&T and others to ensure that Home comes preloaded on some new phones.
Facebook, Gates Foundation to sponsor hackathon - Facebook and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are partnering to organize HackEd, two hackathon events this month to address problems in education. Developers will build Facebook-integrated tools for “social learning,” “out-of-school study” and “college-going.” One event will be at Facebook HQ in California April 9. The other will be its London offices April 24. Winners could take home up to $5,000. This is the second year Facebook and the Gates Foundation have put on this event. Last year it was in California only.
Facebook open sources benchmarking tool – Facebook this week released LinkBench, an open source tool for benchmarking graph databases. LinkBench allows developers to replicate the data model, graph structure and request mix of Facebook’s own MySQL workload, while being customizable and extensible for their specific needs. Tim Armstrong, computer science PhD candidate who led the project during an internship at Facebook, said, “We also believe that the broader community working on databases and social applications can benefit from a realistic benchmark for storage and retrieval of social network and other graph-structured data. These applications place many unique demands on database infrastructure due to rapid growth, large volumes of data, and rich data models, yet there are few benchmarks that test performance for these workloads.” LinkBench is available on GitHub.
Facebook today provided updates regarding its transition from Credits to local currency pricing. The company offered new documentation for game developers and announced that migration will occur in Q3 this year.
Facebook decided to phase out Credits in favor of a user’s local currency — dollars, pounds or yen, for example — in June 2012. This allows the social network simplify the purchase experience and give developers more flexibility. Developers will be able to set more granular and consistent prices for non-U.S. users and price the same item differently on a market-by-market basis, as opposed to pricing their virtual goods in $0.10 USD increments as was required when Credits became mandatory in July 2011. This also eliminates any confusion that resulted from users trying to think about conversion rates for dollars, Credits and in-game currency.
Facebook will no longer display mobile bookmarks for apps unless they are games that function on both mobile devices and the desktop canvas, according to a post on the company’s developer blog.
Bookmarks were likely not driving much traffic to most mobile apps so it wasn’t necessary to keep them around. However, Facebook wants to promote cross-platform game development so it will give them the benefit of mobile bookmarks. With fewer apps being included in the bookmarks menu, the few cross-platform games that do appear there could see more traffic than they were before.
The change goes into effect June 5.
Along with a Timeline redesign, Facebook today announced new features for developers to get their apps more prominently featured on users’ profiles.
Timeline includes new app and activity-driven sections that users can customize to highlight the categories and apps that are most important to them. Developers can configure “collections,” which showcase a user’s activity in their app. For example, Foursquare displays a user’s check-ins, badges, top places, saved places and map. These app sections will replace Timeline “aggregations,” which didn’t necessarily include all Open Graph stories and were not easily discoverable in the old UI. However, developers who previously configured aggregations will need to now create collections, which must be approved by Facebook.
When users add an app section, they can choose where it appears among their other sections, and it will remain there until they edit the order or visibility of the section. Previously, app modules would appear sporadically on Timeline. Users couldn’t control which apps were displayed or in what order. App sections also weren’t available on mobile before, but are in the latest update.
Facebook today announced a new technical conference series for mobile developers to learn about incorporating Facebook into their apps and to connect with engineers and product managers from the platform team.
Mobile DevCon 2013 will take place in New York on April 18, London on May 2, and Seoul on May 7. The conference is free, but developers must apply to attend and space is limited. Facebook says this is a “highly technical event” that will dive “deep in product and code.”
Topics for the conference include how to implement Facebook’s mobile SDKs to drive installs and engagement, using Facebook Login, Open Graph best practices, creating social mobile games, design and product tips, as well as a look at the tools, libraries and techniques Facebook uses to build its own mobile applications. The company says insights from Fab.com, GetGlue, Zeebox, EyeEm and other mobile developers will be part of the agenda. At the end of the day, developers will have opportunities to speak one-on-one with Facebook employees about their apps.
Facebook today announced new ways for lifestyle apps to tap into Open Graph with verbs: run, walk, bike, rate, quote, want to read and want to watch.
These will be known as “built-in” or “common” actions, making them similar to how read, watch and listen can be incorporated into third-party applications. Although developers have been able to create their own custom actions with Open Graph, built-in actions help Facebook better understand the relationship between objects so that it can properly organize them in News Feed, Timeline aggregations and eventually search.
For example, if three of a user’s friends rate the same movie, Facebook can group those actions into a single News Feed story. Those stories can also include elements like star ratings or a fitness app could show stats from a user’s workout. Facebook says these features have improved the clickthrough rates for developers who have been testing them, such as Rotten Tomatoes and MapMyFitness. Other apps that have already added these actions include Nike, Runkeeper, GoodReads, Hulu and more. (more…)
Facebook today announced that it will once again accept new applications to the Preferred Marketing Developer Program, but with two key changes. Applicants must be referred by a Facebook employee or an existing PMD and there will be additional requirements for earning badges.
Current PMDs will have six months to ensure that they meet the new standards for maintaining their badges.
Earlier this year Facebook had temporarily closed its PMD program to new candidates, while it reconsidered its requirements and overall process as a result of the volume of applications it was receiving. The company periodically revises its criteria for entry and for awarding its qualification badges in ads, apps, insights and pages. This time around it is putting more emphasis on skills and software related to advertising and reporting.