Facebook is rolling out ephemeral stories and messaging in its mobile apps today, bringing the popular format for sharing photos and videos to more than 1.65 billion people a day. The move is part of an all-out effort to blunt the momentum of Snapchat, which invented the stories format in 2013, and to ensure Facebook’s continued dominance in an era where photo and video become a primary mode of communication. Its relative success or failure will go a long way in determining who owns the near future of social networking.
The update rolling out globally this morning on iOS and Android has three parts: a redesigned in-app camera, a new feed of ephemeral stories at the top of the News Feed, and a private messaging feature called Direct. Taken together, the features represent the biggest changes to Facebook’s core product in recent memory.
The company first introduced a clone of Snapchat stories in August with Instagram, reflecting the company’s belief that camera-based messaging represents the future of social interaction. Facebook Messenger was next, and testing began inside Facebook’s flagship app in January. WhatsApp rolled out a version in February.
“The way people create content is changing to be from text to photos and videos,” said Connor Hayes, product manager for Facebook stories. “This is in turn changing the way they’re sharing with one another and interacting online.” He added: “This is something that Snapchat has really pioneered.”
As on Snapchat, Facebook stories consist of photos and images that disappear 24 hours after they are posted. You can decorate your posts with text, drawings, stickers, and Snapchat-like animated filters. While the basic suite of creative tools is the same across Facebook’s products, the flagship app’s stories have a few twists of their own. It’s the first Facebook app to get animated face filters, for example, and the company worked with artists Hattie Stewart and Douglas Coupland to design original filters for the app.
Other changes are more cosmetic — and, in some cases, appear to be different for difference’s sake. Instead of swiping left or right to change filters as on Instagram or Snapchat, for example, you swipe up or down. There’s also a chalk marker in the drawing tools that is unique within Facebook’s family of stories products.
To create a story, you can either swipe right on the News Feed or tap the camera in the top-left corner of the mobile app. Once you’re satisfied with your creation, you can either share it with all your friends or send it to a subset of friends you select. In the former case, your post will appear in a horizontally scrolling feed of stories that now sits atop the Facebook app. (The feed is ranked by how close Facebook thinks you are to the person who shared it.) In the latter case, the message will appear in “Direct,” a new part of the Facebook app that is roughly equivalent to Instagram’s direct messages.
Source: The Verge