Facebook wants to help you organize your social circles and keep up with technology news – but not necessarily at the same time. The social media giant on Tuesday announced the launch of two separate products: Groups, a feature it has broken off from its website into a standalone app, and FB Techwire, a page that aggregates tech news.
Available for download today on iOS and Android, the Groups app lets users create new Facebook groups, write messages and post photos and videos to groups of which they're members. They can also track and control their notifications.
The app also has a discovery tab so users will see group recommendations based on pages they've visited, things they like and where they live.
Groups was developed by Facebook Creative Labs, which is also responsible for Facebook's other offshoot products such as Paper (a photo-centric take on the core Facebook app), Slingshot (an ephemeral photo-messaging service), Mentions (for verified public figures to manage their notifications) and Rooms (a forum-like app that lets users chat anonymously).
Facebook's increased focus on offshoot apps is in line with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg's comments in an October conference call, saying the company is working on apps that do one thing really well. "Now, in order to best serve people, you need to build multiple standalone different apps."
"We've built this app with the people who use groups the most in mind," said product manager Shirley Sun in a blog post introducing the app. She used examples of students using groups to stay in touch, friends spread out around the world using the app to stay connected, and a class of students using it to share study notes and reminders with each other.
Unlike the Facebook Messenger feature, which is now available on only mobile devices through the standalone Facebook Messenger app, groups will still be accessible from the core Facebook app.
Meanwhile, Techwire will be an extension of FB Newswire, a page that launched in April this year to aggregate breaking news from around the Web. Like FB Newswire, Techwire will be powered by Storyful, a News Corp.-owned social news agency that monitors the social Web for stories.