Facebook users might experienced small changes to their profile during the past month, and not thought much of it. But these changes are subtly paving the way to the new Facebook profile, which will go public on October 4th and then roll over to all users the next few weeks. It even has a new name: Facebook Timeline.
Facebook Timeline will be a complete upheaval of the current
profile, like nothing done before. For some, the change might be
overwhelming at first. If you’ve been annoyed by Facebook’s subtle
updates to Facebook chat and the way it curates your communal
timeline, this may really throw you for a loop.
I’ve been able to get early access to Facebook Timeline, though, so I can help- here I’ll take you through the new interface and help you familiarize to the major changes brought by Timeline, before the launch.
The new look of Facebook Timeline's profile page
Just a Redesign or More than That?
There is a big visual change between the old profile and the new profile, notably the addition of a Cover Image behind the newly repositioned profile picture. This allows users more visual customization and artistic flair. The other major aesthetic change is the disappearance of the left hand tab found in the classic profile, that used to contain tabs such as “wall”, “friends” and “info.” All of these details are now centralized in the middle of the profile where they will be more visible to visitors because they are now showcased graphically. The righthand side remains similar to the last update, but with changes I’ll discuss below. You can still find the usual advertisements in the bottom right as well as the continuously updated newsfeed in the upper righthand box, and the friends you contact most for instant messaging on the lower right.
The most important addition, however, the one that largely justifies the name “Timeline,” is the inclusion of dates just to the right of the image cover. These dates allow you to jump chronologically from year to year in your profile.
So What is Timeline Exactly?
With Timeline, Facebook allows you now to visit all your activity every month of every year you have been active on Facebook. It is a way to keep track of all your activity on Facebook, from Friends Made, To Likes, Posts, Pictures and even Major events. Timeline even highlights major events you might have participated in while not even on Facebook (like my high school graduation in 2002 far before Facebook launched), but it does have a cut-off point in the year you were born.
Notifications are now grouped together over a one-month period
All posts are classified in chronological fashion from newest to oldest in a vertical way and occupy both sides of a column. Another novelty in Facebook timeline is addition of a star icon next to the pen icon that you use to remove posts. The star icon allows you to highlight important posts and curate your wall so that starred posts occupy the width of the screen.
An example of posts in chronological order and the star icon
Too Much Change Too Soon?
There is no doubt that Timeline is one of Facebook’s boldest moves. With around 800 million users currently, Facebook is the most used social network on the planet. But it has been encountering increased competition notably from Google, who is trying to establish a place in the social media market with Google+. It remains to be seen how users will react to so much change at one time; will users be able to process so much change to a profile they have been deeply familiar with? Early users have been giving mixed reviews. Whether the majority rejoices or balks at Timeline, we’ll know by the official launch next week.