Facebook gets media and lifestyle app integration, including Spotify

Facebook is taking its Open Graph platform to a new level, which not only lets users connect with more than just people, but also offers more opportunities for media and lifestyle apps.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Leading up to the Facebook f8 Developers Forum keynote in San Francisco on Thursday morning, there was a lot of speculation and hype over whether or not Facebook's announcements would truly change social media and networking as we know it.

That might be up to the users to judge overtime, but these changes are certainly putting Facebook in a new direction.

The first major announcement was the Timeline, which redesigned the profile page from the ground up and is dubbed as a new way to share their stories, apps and content with friends.

See also: Facebook's Zuckerberg unveils revamped profile: Timeline

That was followed up with the introduction of the new version of Open Graph and a new class of apps.

The new version of Open Graph means that you "can connect to anything you want in anyway you want," said CEO Mark Zuckerberg, "You don't have to like a book, you can just read a book."

Basically, Facebook is adding verbs to the set of nouns that a person can use to describe something they're sharing. (Now it can say, "Mark is reviewing a restaurant" when using a relevant app action.")

Zuckerberg acknowledged it's simple, but he insisted it's going to change how people use apps on Facebook.

It actually gets better than that. Facebook is expanding beyond game related apps with two new categories: media (music, movies, TV, news and books) and lifestyle (exercise, food, fashion travel and more).

First, the permissions dialog on apps have been completely rewritten to make users understand that they can update their timelines with actions from an app (or not, if they don't want to see these messages ever again). For example, on the Spotify app, users can update their profiles with what and who they're listening to as well as playlists. But Spotify won't ask you every time, reducing the number of annoying pop-up messages.

Then there's what Zuckerberg described as "real-time serendipity," which was demonstrated by the new news ticker on the Facebook homepage that many users might have seen already as it rolled out this week ahead of f8. Zuckerberg posited that it's a way to help users discover new media content faster.

The last key to the Open Graph update is that users can now find "patterns" in their friend's activity. Basically, you can check out how many times a person decides to listen to a particular Lady Gaga song.

Facebook has been working with a number of partners and developers on the future of Open Graph -- most notably Spotify, which was singled out as the digital music locker's CEO and founder Daniel Ek took the stage.

Ek insisted that music can make Facebook even better, and that the key to cutting music piracy was making access to music free and social. He added that Facebook users on Spotify listen to more music with a larger variety of genres and are twice as likely to pay.

"It's a big day for all of the music lovers around the world," Ek said.

However, he didn't delve into the details of the Spotify app too much, although it confirms months of rumors that there would be some kind of Facebook integration at some point.

But the point of Open Graph now is that Spotify isn't alone. There are plenty more of music related social apps on Facebook, including Rhapsody, Rdio, iHeartRadio and turntable.

Moving on to movies and TV, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings took the stage, fresh off from dealing with criticism over the decision to split the streaming and DVD rental businesses. Netflix is now in 45 countries, and in 44 of them, Facebook integration will be available.

That exception is the United States, which has a privacy law that prohibits this feature. Yet, Hastings remained optimistic, adding that there is a bill in Congress that is aiming to reverse this.

The area where Facebook integration might be valued the most will be the lifestyle apps. Taking Nike+ GPS and Foodspotting as examples, users can share things like how far they've run and what they might be eating and where. Basically, the stuff you might want to show off about, and that process is made much easier.

Apps built with the Open Graph upgrade will be rolling out with Timeline simultaneously, and developers can start working on and posting those apps today.

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