Facebook has unveiled a redesigned news feed today, placing more emphasis on photos and introducing a unified interface that draws heavily on its existing mobile design. Here's what has changed and when you can expect the new version.
What's different? The toolbar on the right side expands and hides itself depending on whether or not you need to use it, and photos and video are larger when displayed in your feed. If you're familiar with the most recent redesigns for the iOS and Android Facebook apps, the desktop layout will look familiar. Facebook's own description includes the usual gushing about "beauty" and "simplicity", but in practical terms that just amounts to larger images.
Can I customise what I see? One common complaint for Facebook users is that the news feed constantly reverts to Facebook's own automatic sort rather than letting you see the most recent posts, and often clutters the feed with random information about stuff your friends have liked. The new design partially addresses that criticism by letting you select particular feed types. You can choose to see only updates from your friends, only photos, only information on the music friends are listening to or games they are playing (unlikely) or only information on what they have followed (even less likely).
How soon will it roll out? As with most Facebook updates, you can expect this to take a while. Facebook says the update will roll out "slowly over the coming weeks". You can sign up for early access to tr and speed the process. Bear in mind Facebook is also still rolling out its Graph Search option (though most Australians won't be seeing that for a while).
The initial changes will be seen on web and mobile versions. Facebook says iPhone and iPad updates are also due in a few weeks, with Android to follow at an unspecified point in time. (No word on Windows Phone or BlackBerry updates, though since both those platforms offer built-in social networking integration that's perhaps less significant.)
If I don't like it, will I be able to switch it off? The short answer: no. There are bound to be complaints (and Facebook groups) attacking the new design, and there will inevitably be extensions, user scripts and workarounds to disable it. Nonetheless, the reality of Facebook is that if it decides to change the design, you have to follow. Don't like it? Don't use it.
Additional reporting by Alan Henry