Facebook’s Timeline Finally Showed Up. So Where Are the Apps?

Published on December 15, 2011
by Liz Gannes

After some delays, Facebook today made its new Timeline pages available to all users, promising to replace its static profile pages with a visual presentation of the story of people’s lives from past to present.

However, it didn’t coordinate the Timeline release with the unleashing of the many “Open Graph” applications that developers have been busy building to fill in the story of users’ lives going forward.

Asked when all the Open Graph apps would go live, a Facebook spokesperson said “in the coming weeks.”

Developers reached by AllThingsD seemed to have heard different things from Facebook. Some seemed confident they’d get the nod next week, as soon as Monday. Others said they doubted their apps would be out before January, even though they’re fully ready to go.

Many companies have been working for months on Open Graph apps that have yet to see the light of day. Tens of partners were named in September, but only a handful were allowed to launch, like Spotify and the Washington Post. Many more companies have been working on their own apps in the past three months.

Here’s today’s full Facebook statement on Open Graph timing:

“As we’re rolling out Timeline to everyone on Facebook, developers can build with the Open Graph in beta now. Open Graph apps announced in September at f8 focused on news, music and video have already launched. In the coming weeks, we’ll launch the Open Graph so developers can build a greater variety of apps on Facebook, such as fitness, sports, food, and travel apps.”

And here’s a refresher on the context for how Timeline and Open Graph are tied together:

Users are encouraged to fill in the gaps in their new Timelines, for instance by scanning their baby pictures and other child pics. (By the way, there’s an outside app called ShoeBox from 1000memories to help scan pictures from an iPhone.)

A sampling of content from users’ lives already exists on Facebook — anything they and their friends have posted and tagged on the site. With Timeline, Facebook will display in chronological order every photo, friending and status message each user has posted since joining. The privacy settings will be kept intact, but all this content will be far easier to see than before.

But what about the future of users’ lives? Facebook wants to make Timeline much more full and interesting by including live records of virtually everything its users consume online or track offline. Through its new Open Graph features, outside developers can send automatic activity updates to Facebook.

This could be when a user reads, watches, listens or does anything else for which a developer builds an app.

So a fitness app could send a “run” update of the GPS route each time one of its users goes for a jog, or a kitchen app could send a “cook” update every time a recipe is noted as complete.

That stuff still comes from users approving the app and allowing Facebook to access the information. But once users approve the sharing the first time, it happens “frictionlessly” in the future until they turn it off.

Expect to see a lot more of those options coming soon.

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my ethics statement.

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