Adam Hartley
23/09/2011 12:13 | By Adam Hartley, contributor, MSN Tech & Gadgets

Facebook 2.0 is here – but is it any good?

Mark Zuckerberg has announced big changes for Facebook - we take a look at what you can expect.


Mark Zuckerberg announces Facebook changes at the f8 developer conference (© Bloomberg; Getty Images)

So Facebook just became "the new Yahoo!" and/or "the new Spotify" and/or "the new MySpace" (and/or all three all rolled into one) depending upon which tech industry analyst or observer you choose to listen to reporting from Facebook's F8 developers' conference on Thursday.

Facebook's changes - in pictures


Nice-sounding straplines, for sure, but do they even come close to summing up the significance of the many new changes and additions to everyones' favourite social network announced by CEO Mark Zuckerberg? Let's take a look at what's new.

The key announcements: what you need to know
Basically, there are three key things that you need to know about Facebook 2.0.

Firstly, Facebook's new Timeline feature allows you to quickly and easily look back upon your entire online life, so you - and your friends - can quickly access important moments from your past, such as the day you got married, the day your first child was born, and so on. It's a much more visual version of your profile, but still customisable so you can make a big deal of the stuff you love and hide the less important stuff. You can even go back and add things retrospectively - posting pictures that you didn't at the time, for example.

Secondly, with Facebook's new Activity Logs, the social network promises users that it will be much easier for them to delete info and photos they don't want others to be able to see in the Timeline, or tweak the privacy options so only those they want to see their content, can.

Finally, and perhaps coolest of all, there are loads of new social apps that are designed to let you and your mates more easily share what you're doing, in association with the new real-time ticker.

This includes the ability to listen to and share music online in real-time - with Spotify, Mixcloud, Deezer and a number of other music services now available for music lovers to stream music within Facebook. When a friend is listening to a track, it'll appear in the ticker. Click it and, if you have the app they're using, you'll be able to listen along with them.

There are also easier ways of reading news stories your friends have read, (UK apps include The Guardian, The Daily Mirror and The Independent), and watch your favourite videos and art (with new apps such as Artfinder, myvideo and Dailymotion). All without having to leave Facebook.

This also means the moving away from the rigid Like button - you can now 'do' anything on Facebook. App developers will be able to use a verb that best suits their content.

"You don't have to 'Like' a book, you can just read a book... You don't have to 'Like' a movie, you can just watch a movie... You can just eat a meal, you can hike a trail, listen to a song. You can connect to anything in any way that you want," explained Zuckerberg at F8.

Music feeds the Facebook love
For music lovers, the Spotify partnership with Facebook is a particularly cool new addition and one which many current and new users of the tune-streaming service are genuinely going to get very excited about and use a lot.

"Music is one of the most social things there is," explains Spotify's founder and CEO, Daniel Ek. "That's why for the past couple of years, we've been obsessed with what the next-generation music service should look like. We knew that the service had to be free to draw people away from piracy. Helping them to listen to even more music. To do that, we also knew that the service would have to be inherently social. There couldn't be a better place to do this than Facebook."

In terms of what this means for your daily Facebook experience, you will now suddenly start to see lots more music posts and 'play buttons' scattered throughout your regular news feeds. If you want to listen to something that you find a friend has, you simply click on play and the music starts, with no need to exit Facebook or open up any third-party app.

This is, let's face it, an absolutely genius move because, while many tech geeks have been using Spotify ever since it first launched in the UK in February 2009, many, many millions more on Facebook have remained annoyingly unaware of its existence and its ability to let you listen to almost any music you like instantly and for free (for the most part, if you don't mind a few ads).

Spotify wins, as it gets shedloads more users and traffic. Facebook wins, as it encourages millions more users to share their favourite tunes online, within Facebook. And, most importantly, music fans win, because the move encourages more listeners to use a legitimate streaming service, instead of stealing music from dodgy torrent sites.

The future
Looking back at the bigger picture though, and fast forwarding to 2020 when we all cast a nostalgic look back at the early history of the internet, perhaps the (still) young Zuckerberg's long-term vision for the future of social media will have proved to be far more significant than Yahoo!'s, Spotify's and MySpace's contributions combined.

Zuckerberg told the F8 crowd that, now that many of us have our Facebook connections in place, "The next five years, the next era, is going to be defined by the apps and the depth of engagement."

The new Yahoo!? Don't make me laugh! If Mr Zuckerberg's long-term plans come to fruition over the next decade, Facebook could well become the new internet.

After all, if you can hook up with all your friends, family, work colleagues and other online contacts and pretty much do anything you (virtually) like with them - listen to tunes at the same time, watch a movie together, or simply share your latest experiences or your most treasured memories, then why would you bother going anywhere else?

Such as, for example, outside your house or flat. Remember that?

What do you think to the Facebook announcement? Are you looking forward to the changes or do you just wish they'd leave the design alone? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below. If you missed the announcement, you can read our live blog for our thoughts as it happened and watch the f8 live video streamfor higlights of the announcement.

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