Facebook is apparently updating its mobile app with a new feature that may or may not be an earth-shattering one for most users, but is certainly inviting some interesting responses on social media. According to posts from multiple users on microblogging platform Twitter, the Menlo Park, California-based social networking giant is apparently introducing a new notification for its users that lets one know when their friends on the site are typing up a new comment. The notification apparently simply says, “A friend is writing a comment …”, and pops up when viewing News Feed posts in Facebook. While reports indicate that the feature is currently being tested only for a limited number of users on iOS, it is expected to be rolled out to the site’s Android app as well, as and when the company is satisfied with its acceptance amongst its users. There’s no word however, as to whether it will be incorporated into the main Facebook site as well.
The social network has already confirmed to ‘The Next Web’ that it is indeed rolling out the feature as a test. According to Facebook, “News Feed is a place to stay up to date with your friends and family. We’ve heard from people that they want their experience on Facebook to reflect the real time conversations they have. So we are testing adding a line above the comment box of a post that indicates when a friend is typing. This is to help people have real-time conversations with friends and family”. Not everybody however, seems pleased with the real-time notifications, and going by some of the reactions on the net, people have variously described the new feature as being creepy and unnecessary. Some have even expressed concerns that it will increase backspacing, as is the case with many other messaging apps that currently come with such real-time updates.
Talking about messaging apps that already features real-time updates, popular ones like Microsoft’s Skype and Google’s Hangout do let users know when the person at the other end of a conversation is typing a message, but Facebook has thus far refrained for incorporating the feature in its main app. It remains to be seen how Facebook users receive it, and if it will modify, help or hinder user involvement with the social network in any discernable way. While it is too early to pass any judgment either way, going by empirical evidence from existing apps, the new feature may well increase privacy concerns amongst some users of the social networking platform.