If you haven’t been out camping for the past few days you’ll be very much aware of the recent Facebook UI changes that the company has been rolling out. The new ticker that has ticked a lot of people is one of the additions you might have noticed. However, this is merely scratching the surface; in the next few weeks the company will be rolling out significant changes to the interface. The profile page update: ‘Timeline’ as it’s being touted by the company seems to be one of the biggest changes that will change the way Facebook looks and feels.
As a developer I got an opportunity to test drive this new UI. What Timeline does is that it tries to fill your entire profile page with everything significant that has ever happened in your life — right from the moment you were born, to your high school graduation and even the moment you proposed your girl. It goes on even further, all important relations in your life are listed — your sister’s birth, your parents anniversary right to the moment you became a dad (I’m assuming as this event hasn’t occurred in my life yet). The timeline is a vertical line that is punctuated with months and broken into years. As you scroll down — equivalent to going back in time — status updates, photos, pages you’ve liked and videos you’ve been tagged in appear adjacent to the timeline. Personally I quite like the presentation and this might comfort quite a few people who’ve been overwhelmed by the cluttered UI Facebook currently offers. I tried digging down into the timeline and could easily pin point events that happened two years ago by narrowing down to the exact month. These updates are for now part of the developer preview program and certain features may be modified or removed when Facebook finally stars rolling out the updates for the public.
As soon as you switch to your profile, you’re greeted with the timeline view. There is a new feature called ‘cover’ that allows you to showcase an image (849×311 pixels) of your choice. This serves as a backdrop to your profile picture. There is a new widget that allows you to update your status, share a photo and pin a place. Your recent activity and updates appear below. On the right is a new timeline meter which allows you to switch to an older timeline from ‘Now’ and even go back to events such as ‘Born’.
Milestones and Experiences
Facebook has added a new section that allows you to mark important milestones and experiences in your life. These then appear in your timeline and can be visible to your family, friends or the public depending on your privacy settings. You can mark personal events such as engagement, marriage, parenthood, getting a pet, losing a loved one to buying a home, adding a roommate or getting a new bike and also unlucky events such as breaking a bone. What this means is that Facebook will have more information about the users to a level previously unimaginable.
There is a new calendar icon below the Status widget that allows you to select the current or previous date. This allows you to tag dates to your status updates. Also now you can easily pin places to your updates. Facebook has worked closely with Microsoft’s Bing team and this finally allows Facebook to pinpoint your exact location based on your ip address. I was amazed and also shocked to find the names of all the surrounding schools, colleges and even streets in my current location. I managed to go back to a couple of years and still the timeline pulled out important photos and updates from days gone by.
Going Back in Time
As I started scrolling down — equivalent to going back in the timeline — all major events started appearing adjacent to the timeline. My most like status updates, photographs I was tagged in, important announcements and everything that had created a buzz was displayed inside neat information bubbles. Clicking on the timeline itself (the blue vertical line with dots) allows you to insert photographs, messages or events conveniently. So if you’ve bought a new Ducati last Friday, you could easily add a photograph of your bike or make an announcement for the precise moment.
The Activity Log allows you to display your posts, posts by others, comments, questions, groups, notes, events sorted neatly into years and months. This is very useful if you have tons of photos you would like to go back to, if you organize many events or if you just want to learn why your relationship failed so miserably in just a matter of few months. The Activity Log is a dream come true for marketing people, event organizers and stalkers alike.
Photos & Albums
The photo album has been updated as well. However beside the cosmetic changes, timeline integration is missing inside the album. It would’ve been great if you could just browse through albums sorted by year, months or days. One good thing now is that you can change the privacy of the albums by simply clicking on the globe or the gear icon below the image and choosing the appropriate privacy for your album.
Friends & Likes
Friends and your likes now appear inside the timeline itself. Also, comments by your friends in your timeline are shown inside the friends widget. The like widget displays your recent likes and also allows you to remove or edit your liked pages.