Less than two years after Facebook opened its Web site to external developers, more than 52,000 applications have been created, a volume that is prompting the company to simplify how its members find these programs, according to a company official.
"We're focusing a lot on discoverability of applications. Our 'Feed' [feature] is a great way of discovering what actions your friends are taking, but we also are very keenly focused on improving the experience around discovering apps," Dave Morin, Facebook's senior platform manager, said in an interview Tuesday.
Currently, Facebook members can look for applications by browsing a directory or by entering a query on the site's search engine, and developers in turn can hawk their applications by purchasing advertising space on the site.
However, Facebook wants to improve on these methods of finding and promoting applications. "We're doing lots of testing around giving users more ways to discover applications that their friends are interacting with, so you'll see some of that work come out this year," Morin said during the Future of Web Apps conference in Miami.
This should be good news both for members interested in finding applications that are relevant and useful to them, as well as for developers, some of whom have complained that the latest Facebook redesign reduced the visibility of applications in member profiles.
Facebook takes issue with the grievance from developers who say the redesign has been bad for their applications. The company maintains the opposite is true, saying that developers who understand the new opportunities the redesign provides them have increased the user engagement for their applications.
Be that as it may, the truth is that developers create about 140 new Facebook applications every day, so any help sorting through and finding applications will surely be welcome, considering the staggering number of options available to the site's 175 million members.
"We're looking at that experience, trying to improve the discoverability of applications. You'll see a bunch of improvements there this year," Morin reiterated.
One way in which developers will be able to differentiate their applications from the rest is by having them verified by Facebook, via a verification program announced in November. However, Facebook hasn't yet started granting the verification seals to applications.
"That program is chugging along. We're working with several developers and getting it queued up. It's a big thing to operate, so we've been scaling it up, getting it ready to go," Morin said.