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Friday, September 23, 2011
Facebook Integrates music, TV, Extend Online Reach With Timeline


Facebook unveiled new ways for users to listen to music and watch TV, offering tie-ups with the likes of Spotify and Hulu. The company also unveiled "Timeline," a new profile that serves as a sort of diary of a person's life.

The new features were unveiled at Facebook's annual f8 developers' conference in San Francisco on Thursday.

Facebook out a small ribbon on users' profiles called the "ticker." Thestream of updates automatically lists users' activity on a range of apps made for listening to music, watching movies, reading news and playing games.

Clicking on your friends' items in the ticker can lead to automatically being signed up for free trials on services such as music plans Spotify and Rhapsody, many of which may eventually ask for a monthly fee.

Supported third-party streaming music services include Spotify, Rhapsody and Deezer.

Video service Hulu also launched an app that helps sell its $8-a-month Hulu Plus subscription. While there is a range of free TV and movie content, users who click on a friend's video that is normally reserved for paying customers will be able to see only a 90-second preview before being informed how to sign up for the pay version.

Rhapsody, a competing $10-a-month unlimited mobile music service, announced it would allow Facebook users 30 days to try out their service, even on mobile devices.

Spotify charges $10 a month for unlimited access to tracks on mobile devices, but a PC-based version is free in the U.S. with no caps on usage for now. Clicking on friends' passive posts puts a program on one's computer that plays back the song.

The media push comes as Facebook faces fresh competition from Google, which in June launched a rival social networking service, Google+.

Netflix Chief Executive said he was excited to offer tighter integration with Facebook. Netflix's integration will only be available in Canada and Latin America. Non-members will be prompted to sign up for a free month-long trial if they click on what a friend is watching.

The Washington Post Co. also unveiled its Social Reader, which lets people read and share stories from the newspaper within Facebook.

Facebook also introduced an overhaul of users' personal profiles on Thursday which arranges past photos and other information into a magazine-like layout. Dubbed "Timeline," the new profile serves as a sort of diary of a person's life, organized by each year they've been on Facebook. The timeline can go back to include years before Facebook even existed. Users can also add also music, maps and other content next to their memories.

Software developers whose services connect with Facebook will be able to customize the types of notifications that are broadcast to a Facebook user's friends, with terms like "watched" a video, "read" an article.

Yahoo! announced a new way to discover and connect with Facebook. Beginning with Yahoo! News in the U.S. and IntoNow from Yahoo!, the mobile app to discover and discuss TV shows, Yahoo! is putting people's friends front and center to usher in a new way of connecting around content socially.

The new Yahoo! News friends' activity feature lets people discover and connect around the news and information they are enjoying on Yahoo! through updates on Facebook.

By opting-in to the new feature, people can see their Facebook friends' and the recent articles they've read. People's activity will also be featured back on their Facebook profile as it happens. People will also have a lightweight dashboard that provides a clear view into their activity. "Your Friends' Activity," will show Facebook friends and what they're reading on Yahoo! in a new "facebar" at the top of Yahoo! News. "Your Friends' Tab" will display the articles users' friends have recently viewed.

People will also be able to feature their TV watching activity on IntoNow from Yahoo! on their Facebook profile. This content will appear on people's profiles under "Most Watched" and "Most Recently Watched." People will also be able to discover new content based on their friends' activity.

The friends' activity feature will be incorporated into other media properties across the Yahoo! network and rolled out in additional international markets in the coming months.

TiVo also announced in conjunction with Facebook's developer conference, that it will update its popular iPhone and iPad apps to include additional integration with Facebook to increase Social TV functionality. Facebook's newly announced Like and Watch integrations with the enhanced Facebook APIs which will allow people who use the TiVo service to further connect with family, friends, and subscribers around the entertainment they love to offer an added layer of recommendations.

The TiVo App lets people peruse TiVo's hallmark search, browse and recommendation functions, without disrupting what they are watching on the big screen. The improved integrations will launch on the TiVo app later this year. The TiVo App is available for free from the App Store on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, or at www.itunes.com/appstore.

The TiVo App for iPhone supports all high definition TiVo DVRs, including TiVo Premiere, Premiere XL, Series3, HD and HD XL. Series2 and non-TiVo users can still sample the TiVo experience through the apps Guest Mode.


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