Facebook Unveils the Future of Communication

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Thousands of viewers streamed into Facebook’s live presentation of their new products mid Wednesday. Mark Zuckerberg and his company unveiled a huge step forward in social media and, of course—a huge step forward in their competition with the Google+ project.

Facebook’s new products included an upgraded sidebar, group chat, and the very buzzed about feature: video chat in partnership with Skype. But most interestingly was their collaboration of major messaging systems: email, SMS, and IM. Zuckerberg described the idea for this new product, saying, “We don’t think a modern messaging system is email.” Though, he did later elaborate that he doesn’t expect the product to replace emailing, and he certainly doesn’t expect people to immediately shut down their email accounts and only use the new facebook.com email address.

But he did explain why emailing isn’t modern. He listed seven concepts people want out of their electronic communication as seamless, informal, immediate, personal, simple, minimal, and short. Records show that 4 billion messages are sent across Facebook daily—most of which are one-on-one and private via the Messages feature or the instant messages of Facebook’s Chat, supporting Zuckerberg’s theory.

And on top different types of Facebook messaging systems, people have SMS and emailing, and different people prefer each method. So Facebook thought to centralize all of this into one, life-long stream of one-on-one conversation. If your friend prefers e-mail, and you prefer Chat, you can both communication using your medium of choice. You can view the history of your conversations as a timeline across all the mediums, not just in separate chunks of email, texts, etc. No matter where you are or what medium you use, you can pick up where you left off.

That covers the seamless messaging and conversation history idea, but course, that’s not all. The new product includes a 3 part social inbox that automatically filters messages based on who Facebook knows you care most about. Messages (including your emails, SMS and Facebook features) will be divided into “Messages”, “Other”, or “Junk”.  You can also manually move different people into folders and set privacy settings to limit messages to people you’re friends with.

Andrew Bosworth, Director of Engineering for Facebook, insisted he be called Boz, then continued to tell heartwarming stories and scenarios that all concluded with the need to use Facebooks new message features. Like his Grandma kept all of her letters from his Grandfather since they were early dating, he could view the first messages with his girlfriend from “it was nice meeting you” to their apartment buying and cat naming plans. Basically, Facebook is appealing to real life emotions and relationships.

So it looks like Facebook is still in the running against their soon-to-be major competition Google+. But if you’re wondering what’s so innovative about Google’s social media, here’s a quick summary:

Google+ includes three main features called Circles, Sparks, and Hangouts. The Circles feature allows you to easily share things with certain people, without complicated privacy settings. The Sparks Feature will keep you coming back to your Google+ homepage whenever you’re bored, because it automatically feeds you news and media according to your interests. And of course, Hangouts allows for group video chat.

Currently, Google+ is still a project, so accounts are only available to some people. Likewise, not all of Facebook’s new features are available to the whole network. They’ll continue to add more people, clean up the glitches, and eventually (soon!) expand to everyone. We’ll have to wait a little longer to see how the Google+ versus Facebook battle turns out. In the meantime, you can go group video chat with your Facebook friends.

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