Facebook has announced a redesigned News Feed that separates streams of content into multiple categories and optimizes the user interface with a "mobile-inspired" design. Describing the goal of News Feed as providing a "personalized newspaper," Mark Zuckerberg says it's being changed to take advantage of more photo and other visual content sharing, as well as the difference between personal stories and posts from public figures. "We want updates from our friends, but we also want updates from publications" and others.
Noting that half of posts on the News Feed are photos and visual content, the Facebook team has made photos and albums larger, evoking what it's done for the Timeline. Articles have also been expanded to include a fuller summary and the logo of the publication. Facebook is similarly working to make third-party content from places like Pinterest more attractive. When multiple people share something like an article, hovering over profile icons on the left-hand side will display what each of them has said about the link. Unsurprisingly, these more prominent images and summaries will apply to ads as well.
Besides the visual redesign, Facebook is also trying to take advantage of its "Like" system and multiple streams of information from apps or different groups of friends. Along with user's friends' stories, it will begin including recommended articles or other content from people or pages that they're interested in — the example given was seeing articles about Taylor Swift if you've liked her on Facebook. A list of multiple feeds is shown on the right (or the top on mobile), showing friends' posts for things like photos, music, or games. Some of these already existed: games and "close friends" already got their own feeds, for example. There's a new dedicated feed for people you follow but aren't friends with, another nod to the change from pure social network to "newspaper."
Facebook's overall new look fits with the current love of clean, image-heavy sites — it's drawn comparisons to competitor Google+ — but it's also pulling specific features from mobile: a rail on the left-hand side with links to messages, events, or available friends echoes its app design. The new News Feed is launching on the web version today, with a mobile version coming in the next few weeks; a waiting list is live at facebook.com/newsfeed. Perhaps cognizant of the protest over almost any new feature, Facebook says it will run a "careful and slow" rollout.