Facebook Phone’s UberFeed to pull info/feeds from everywhere. Enhanced caller ID, privacy mode in the works too
So, the Facebook Phone we told you about few weeks ago, is finally coming on Thursday. One of the key features for this handset will be an active Home/Lock screen that will display Facebook feed. There’s a talk about dedicated camera app to replace default Android one, and improved FB messenger.
But getting a news feed to show-up on your Android Home screen sounds kinda lame for three years of effort by Facebook’s mobile head Eric Tseng, who joined social networking giant from Google way back in 2010. To see what else Facebook may brig to their new device, we looked at the patent applications filed by the company and Eric Tseng himself. There were quite a few interesting ones.
Active Home Screen with UberFeed
Let’s start with the active Lock screen displaying Facebook feed. Yep, they have a patent app for that.
It’s called “Display Dynamic Contents on Locked Screens” and talks about displaying your Facebook feed intermixed with your SMS, e-mails, shared pics and stuff. But the social news feed on your locked HTC Myst display is not the interesting part here. For its grand entry into mobile Facebook may have something much bigger in the works. They call it “Uberfeed” and describe it in detail in the patent application with the same name:
… various types of information relevant to the user (e.g., relevant to the user himself or relevant to the user’s life) obtained from multiple sources may be mixed and combined into a single, yet comprehensive information feed, which may be referred to as a “uberfeed”. The term “uber” is a prefix originated from German, which may convey the meaning of “increased elevation or quantity”, “superiority”, or “excessive degree”. Thus, a uberfeed may include many different types and pieces of information obtained from many different sources. In particular embodiments, the specific informational content contained in a uberfeed is user specific. That is, the information contained in a uberfeed constructed for one user may differ from the information contained in a uberfeed constructed for another user. In addition, the specific informational content contained in a uberfeed constructed for a specific user may also be time and/or location specific. A uberfeed may thus provide a single information feed (i.e., a single information source) that includes all types of information relevant to the user. Consequently, the user only needs to look to one information source for all the information he may need.
The Uberfeed information sources can include:
news (e.g., news feed), notices, advertisements, network content (e.g., information publicly available on the Internet), messages (e.g., email or SMS), social-networking information (e.g., information associated with the social-networking system, such as status of the user’s social connections, social events, etc.), web-based applications (e.g., online games), the user’s private or personal information (e.g., information stored on the user’s device, such as the contact information of the user’s family and friends stored in the user’s address book), multiple RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds, which may include blog entries, news headlines, audio, video, etc., from various feed publishers
All this info is pulled in by Uberfeed server, mixed, matched and sorted according to what Facebook knows about your friends, preferences and location, and pushed to the mobile device, to be displayed on your Lock/Home screen. If done well, it may be a good replacement for soon to be dead Google Reader, and become a serious challenger to a slew of other news reading apps like Pulse or Flipboard. And pull you into the Facebook world way deeper than you ever imagined possible.
Socially ranked Phonebook, Facebook enhanced Caller ID, privacy mode and camera app improvements
Since Facebook has already decided to integrate themselves very deep into to your Android smartphone, another step would be taking over your Phonebook and Dialler app. With hundreds or even thousands of contacts in there, our phonebooks are already pretty unwieldy, navigated mostly by search, with alphabetical ordered list making less sense every day. Facebook has a solution for that – why not order your contacts based on your social graph and how often you interact with people?
And when the call comes in, wouldn’t it be fun to pull and show all the caller’s profile information, instead of the phone number, name and (sometimes) picture we see today?
Facebook Phone may have that feature too. It’s described in a patent application “Caller identification using social networking information” and looks pretty cool.
Interestingly enough, Facebook has also been thinking about the privacy implications that always on social enabled smartphones can create. And came up with ingeniously simple solution. A button or setting to manually toggle social mode on or off. It’s described in a patent app called “Social mode for managing communications between a mobile device and social networking system”. Toggle the switch on, and everything you do is recorded and sent to Facebook servers, toggle it off and nothing gets sent without your prior approval.
And then there’s phone camera. I’ve found two interesting applications in Erick Tseng’s name. One covers zero-click multimedia auto-uploads to the social networking service, and deals with choosing picture resolution based on available bandwidth, managing an upload queue and similar stuff. Another one, called “Computer-Vision-Assisted Location Accuracy Augmentation” is about recognizing and auto-tagging famous objects and persons in your pics:
Of course, all of the above are just patent applications – the stuff Facebook has been playing in their R&D labs few years ago. So there’s no telling which of the features above will make it into the Facebook Phone, which were shelved, and which are still in development.
Well, we’ll know more on Thursday. Stay tuned.