Timeline apps more ‘mobile’ than ‘web’ – Facebook’s Ethan Beard

27 Oct 2011

Facebook developer director Ethan Beard at the Dublin Web Summit earlier today. Photo credit: Conor McCabe Photography

Due ‘any week now’, Facebook’s Timeline looks set to spark an apps revolution. But don’t be fooled, the apps that are likely to triumph on Timeline will be more mobile in orientation, the director of Facebook’s Developer Network Ethan Beard told Silicon Republic.

Facebook’s new Timeline platform spreads Facebook’s concept of an Open Graph further by telling the story of a user’s life through multimedia from music and photos to video and ultimately through apps.

Timeline, which was revealed at F8 in recent weeks will help users express their interests whether it is travel, music, cooking or sports through these different mediums in a rich, graphically designed style.

“We want to make it so the platform works consistently for developers across web and mobile and offers users all the same features and functionality,” Beard explained. “This is for both mobile and web developers as well as native iPhone developers.

“We think that a lot of the apps that are being built to help people build out their Timeline, some of those apps are more mobile apps than web apps,” Beard said.

He cited the example of the Nike Plus GPS integration that was demoed at F8, which shares a users’ various running exploits on Timeline via GPS on the users’ smartphone. “It’s a mobile app that works with a web app, but the primary use case is on mobile.

“Things that you do and activities that you take part in throughout your life, and when you want to share them and put them on Timeline, a lot of those will not be where you are sitting in front of a computer, but where you are travelling, cooking, running or hanging out with friends.”

Facebook: Timeline’s launch ‘a matter of weeks’

Of course all of this begs the question, when will Timeline go public? “We’ve been working on Timeline for the better part of a year. It’s obviously a very complex product and people  have a strong sense of ownership around what they put on Facebook and certainly on their Facebook profile.

“If anything Timeline is going to increase that sense of ownership and will give you the ability to really customise how you are represented on Facebook, so it’s important to us that we roll it out in a way that is respectful of that and makes people comfortable.

“We don’t have a specific launch date, we’re saying in a matter of weeks we should be able to get it out.

“For developers we want to be open and global and make it possible for anyone anywhere to build apps and we aim to ensure that the platform is general purpose so people can build a video app or a music app or do a cooking or recruitment app.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years