Facebook is renowned for not listening to its users. For every site update and modification it offers there seems to be several anti-change groups to go with it that appear on the social networking site.
I have never seen a change on Facebook accepted positively and the latest one surrounding the combination of chat and messages was no different. I first became aware of the update when using the Facebook iPhone app; a short message appeared when trying to access my messages, telling me of the new system. Wanting to simply look at my messages quickly I disregarded the message without much thought, and didn’t see the change in use until logging on via my laptop.
At first it made no sense. Using the chat feature would automatically send me a message containing each short message received during a ‘chat’, meaning not only did I receive a new message containing something I had already read and responded to every thirty seconds, but I also now had all my chats stored as a permanent record. Why? I don’t take a Dictaphone to every face to face meeting I have with friends to record the event as an eternal memory, so why would I want to do the same when quickly asking people how their day has been?
It wasn’t until I used the iPhone app again that it all clicked into place. Facebook may not be the best at listening to their users, but they are picking up on the move towards greater mobile technology use. It is predicted soon that people will access the Internet more on their smartphones, iPads, etc than they will via PCs. The Facebook website will gradually become less important than the apps and that’s where the company are focussing their developments on.
While scrolling through my news feed on my phone I heard a new alert sound. A short exploration later and I found it had informed me of a new message. Except it wasn’t really a message, not in the form of a long email-like message, but a short, chat-like one left by someone wondering whether I was online or not. I was, but when using the iPhone app I have discovered I do not usually receive the little green dot next to my name to alert others of this, only achieving this when on my laptop. Due to the change in messaging however a friend was able to contact me in a chat manner and conduct a conversation usually reserved for PC use.
Facebook isn’t the only company to put a new focus on mobile apps. Social media and interest site, Get Glue seems it was designed in app form first, website later, in terms of ease of use. LinkedIn is another, both of these stem from over-complicated websites that don’t adhere to user-friendliness but are excelling in the social media market thanks to mobile technology.
The interesting point to note will be how quickly the shift to mobile use becomes dominant, rendering the PC as we know it almost redundant, and more intriguingly, how soon it will be before a large user-base app will have no use of an interaction-based website at all. I believe this will be some time off yet, but with the rapid development of apps and now Facebook intending to release a separate app for chat altogether in the US, it is something smaller online businesses will have to pay close attention to.