A Closer Look at Facebook’s 5 New Prototype Applications

Earlier today, Facebook’s Director of Engineering Aditya Agarwal announced the launch of Facebook Prototypes at TechCrunch50 in San Francisco. The apps, all built by Facebook engineers during recent company hackathons, “let us share the experimentation going on inside the walls of Facebook with the rest of the world,” according to Facebook engineer Lee Byron.

We sat down with Agarwal and Product Manager Ruchi Sangvi this afternoon to talk about at the prototype apps Facebook released.

1. Recent Comments Filter

Developed by Dan Schaffer (intern)

The Recent Comments Filter app is one of the most useful of them all. When users add the app, a new “Comments” filter appears on the News Feed that shows the most recent posts that have been commented on by your friends, with your friends’ comments highlighted. It’s a powerful way to see what your friends are engaging with across Facebook.

2. Similar Posts

Developed by Raylene Young (and others)

Like the Comments filter, the Similar Posts app adds more productivity to filtering the News Feed. When you add the app, a new “Similar Posts >” action item appears next to items in the News Feed, that when clicked automatically shows all other related posts in your stream. The app automatically selects important keywords and finds other stories that match the selected story in your News Feed. While the matching algorithm is somewhat rudimentary, it’s a fantastic way to see which of your friends are talking about the same thing.

3. Photo Tag Search

Developed by Al Urim (intern)

Photo Tag Search is a handy application that allows you to easily find photos tagged with multiple friends. For example, say you wanted to find photos of your friends Liz and Jessica, but didn’t want to flip through Liz’s 1,000 Facebook photos for ones that Jessica is also in. Now, you can do a tag search from the Facebook Photos main page and find photos easily.

4. Enhanced Event Emails

Developed by Paul McDonald

Enhanced Event Emails is also a very handy application that automatically attaches iCal files to your Facebook Event invitation emails. This means it’s easy to integrate Facebook Events with whatever calendaring product you already use, like Google Calendar, Outlook, and others.

5. Desktop Notifications for Mac

Developed by Lee Byron

Initially released last week, Desktop Notifications for Mac is a simple utility that displays incoming Facebook notifications and Facebook messages in real time on your desktop. With Desktop Notifications for Mac, you won’t miss anything that’s happening on Facebook whenever you’re using your comptuer.