May 22, 2014
Want To Share That Tune? No Worries, Facebook Can Do It For You
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Facebook knows that users like to share. Now, the social networking giant is rolling out a new feature that can "listen" to the music or TV playing nearby and produce "matches" that can be incorporated into your status updates. In other words you don't need to actually type what you're grooving out to, Facebook will do it for you.
On Wednesday the social media giant announced, "we're making those conversations quicker and easier by introducing a new way to share and discover music, TV and movies. When writing a status update – if you choose to turn the feature on – you’ll have the option to use your phone’s microphone to identify what song is playing or what show or movie is on TV. That means if you want to share that you’re listening to your favorite Beyoncé track or watching the season premiere of Game of Thrones, you can do it quickly and easily, without typing."
With this feature music, TV shows and movies can be automatically tagged in a user's status updates. The social network is able to do the listening via a user's phone microphone and it can identify from the audio what is playing and tag it in a post.
CNN compared the tool to Shazam, "the mobile app that can tell you what song is playing on the radio."
Facebook hasn't given this new feature a name yet, but announced that it will be available to US users in the coming weeks for Android and iOS devices. When the feature is on, users will see the audio icon move, which means Facebook is attempting to detect a match when a status update is being written.
"No sound is stored and you'll always get to choose whether you post to your friends," Facebook added. "Like with any post, you choose who can see it. You can also turn the feature off at any time by clicking the audio icon in the top right of the screen."
When users share music their friends can get a 30-second preview of the song, while TV shows in the News Feed will highlight the specific season and even episode that a user was watching. Facebook noted that this could allow users to avoid any spoilers or even join in conversations with friends after catching up on the TV viewing.
Is this something that Facebook, which has come under scrutiny for privacy concerns, needs to really add? Industry watchers say it could find a niche market at best.
"I already know which of my friends who are going to use this new feature," said Josh Crandall, principal analyst at Netpop Research. "They are the hipsters who share their Spotify and Soundcloud alerts and pride themselves on their musical taste. They want to share their knowledge.
"Most of them are willing to deal with the delays and extra effort to 'tag' a status with the same information, some may not," Crandall told redOrbit. "But, generally speaking this is a niche feature and verges on the 'creepy' side of invading people's personal space. Even if people opt-in, it's questionable that they want to share what they are listening to or watching all of the time. Some will probably wonder what Facebook will do with the data in the case it isn't shared. Is the company still holding onto the data for profiling purposes? Will it be used to target advertising at them?"
However, this still-unnamed feature could prove faster than other music match apps.
Business Insider reported that "In the test we witnessed at Facebook's New York office, Facebook's music matches occurred much faster than Shazam's. (Of course, we had the slight advantage of being inside a quiet office.) Each 'listen' has a 15-second timeout — so the function takes less time than that to figure out which song you're listening to."
However, it is unlikely that Shazam will find itself squeezed out as Business Insider also reported that Shazam recently began working with Apple on a similar music-matching feature – and noted that Facebook's new offering could be closely watched by Twitter.
The micro-blogging service has long tried to associate itself as an accompaniment to TV-watching. Yet, it isn't clear if this can give Facebook a leg up in becoming the de facto second screen content viewers look to while watching TV. That may not be what Facebook is looking to achieve.
"The feature has less to do with innovation, since it's already available via other applications, rather than maintaining Facebook's need to provide the full breadth of social features available on different services," Crandall added. "The strategic question is when does feature creep become Ux overload for users?"