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Just because you are the industry juggernaut doesn’t mean your product has to stay static, or at least that’s what the people at Facebook believe. The company rolled out some new features this week, proving once again that no matter how perfect their social media formula may seem, they are always looking to the future.
As soon as today, Facebook users with iOS devices will be able to utilized the new Facebook Chat Heads, a feature that’s part of the Facebook Home family of applications the social media company recently launched on Android devices.
Basically, the new app combines the features of Facebook Mobile’s chat with those of a mobile device’s stock SMS updates. The result is a two-in-one instant messaging system right at users’ fingertips. The name “Chat Heads” is derived for the application’s visual environment which sees contacts’ profile pictures pop up to denote a new conversation.
The only difference between the iOS and Android version of the application will be that the iOS version’s features will only be accessible through the Facebook application, whereas the Android version’ is more fully integrated into the device, according to Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer and Vice President of Mobile Engineering Cory Ondrejka.
Facebook hopes to release a more complete version of the Home set of application for iOS in the future, but for now it’s only a thought. Bloomberg.com reported that Apple and Facebook were in talks about developing a complete version of Home for the iPhone, though there is some skepticism surrounding the claim. Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s Product Manager, told Bloomberg that the social media network may also incorporate elements of the design of Facebook Home to the iPhone.
If Apple’s past approach to developing apps like Facebook Home is any indicator, the likelihood that iOS users will see a full suite of Home applications too soon is slim. The outlook is even bleaker because Apple doesn’t allow apps that alter its core functions (keyboard, phone, messaging).
Bloomberg also noted that because Android offers different development opportunities, Facebook has encouraged employees to make a shift from using Apple products to using devices attached to Google’s open platform.
“I actually had to get up in front of the entire company and make a speech and ask for people to shift,” Mosseri told Bloomberg.
Facebook has also announced that it will be updating its News Feed for iPads. The new version of the News Feed will feature larger photos and more prominently displaced content to optimize the display for the tablet format.
According to a Facebook blog, the updated news feed will feature “brighter, more beautiful stories.”
Whether users access the internet via a data plan or wirelessly, the update will be available for download to devices later today. What is the best internet provider? Well, that depends on your location and your budget, but just about any provider – even those only offering dial-up – will work for Facebook.
The desktop version of the new News Feed launched last month, and will roll out in waves until all users have it like the Timeline did. Ultimately, Facebook is hoping that the new design of the news feed improves and enriches the story design of the social media’s user experience.
Facebook Chat Heads and the updated News Feed look are just the two most recent advances and changes the company has made to its interface. In 2012 alone, Facebook made more than a few significant alterations to its social media approach, including the launch of the Timeline format, the incorporation of emoticons to its chat feature, and the ability to edit items that have already been posted to a user’s wall, among others.