So it seems that just this week Facebook updated it’s app for Windows Phone.
The new update introduces a panorama look, adds more functionality, and ultimately has totally redesigned UI that looks more in line with Metro styling. Other changes include a refined toolbar at the bottom with quick access to add posts and add/take new pictures. Users also have access to pages, groups, feed filters, and privacy information from this app.
I actually managed to get my hands on the new version using a friend’s Nokia, and found it is a major improvement and I personally prefer it over the Android version I’m currently using.
The biggest and most important takeaway is that Facebook has gotten a more Metro-friendly design, and hopefully this means that this is one of the apps that will get the conversion treatment over to Windows 8 for the Windows Consumer Preview.
While social interaction and communication has been important to Windows in the past, it has been more about Messenger and socializing through IE, not a direct integration into Windows 8.
This is one of the most important things that Microsoft needs to get right if they are going to be embraced by the ‘casual’ consumer crowd with their tablets. I’m not as worried about this with desktops, but with tablets it certainly is key. Luckily, Windows Phone has shown that Microsoft can do a great job on that front.
It got me thinking though, is tight social integration with existing platforms enough? I don’t doubt that Microsoft’s Windows 8 will have Twitter, Facebook, and other relevant social platforms built into the Metro experience, but is now the right time for them to introduce their own social platform?
The groundwork for such a thing already exists within Messenger and Windows/Xbox Live. I honestly feel though that with Microsoft trying to reach out to the living room and televisions in new ways, taking Xbox/Windows LIVE to the next level with a built-in social platform that is Facebook-like, wouldn’t necessarily be a bad move. They certainly have the resources to make this move.
By offering an experience that is highly intertwined with Messenger and LIVE, they could reach users on a much wider scale than even Facebook: Windows users, Xbox users, tablet users, and more. Add Skype into that formula somehow and I think it could certainly work.
The key question though is if Microsoft has enough to gain from launching a direct Google+ and Facebook competitor. With services like Messenger, LIVE, and Skype already existing and standing alone fine, maybe they don’t.
On the console front though, socialization at this level my really be appealing for some types of users (such as the casual crowd). As Xbox 720 is rumored to have a closer integration to Windows 8, run its own apps, and more, adding a stronger Microsoft socialization element might not be a horrible plan.
Still I am a little torn on whether or not it is smart to make something new or simply utilize existing 3rd party services in new ways.
Do you think that Microsoft has anything to gain by launching its own Google+/Facebook-like service? Or is it better for the folks at Redmond to focus on just making sure that Windows/Xbox/TVs/Tablets all just work well with existing platforms, giving users more options on where they want to socialize?