What's Up With Facebook's Planned Upgrades

What's going on with some of the features that Facebook has promised to upgrade this year?

The programmers at Facebook have had a busy year, with a slew of new features and upgrades implemented across the site. The past four weeks alone have seen the launch of a new send button, and recent updates to deals and questions. The flurry of activity so far this year would make any Facebook observer wonder what to look for down the road.

Looking at what’s been launched so far, and what’s been promised by Facebook, here’s just a sampling of features and upgrades to expect in the coming months.

Deals

The launch this week of Facebook deals should have competitors like Groupon and Living Social take notice. But the roll-out was not without some limitations. One surprise: only check-in deals are free to the merchant. There’s also no mobile app yet. And, Facebook credits, the same credits used to play games on the social platform, cannot be used toward the purchase of goods, and instead only may be redeemable things like event purchases. That leaves a wide range of features and upgrades to look for with Facebook deals. And that leads to the next critical space for Facebook…

E-Commerce

Whether its called e-commerce, f-commerce or social commerce, this space represents one of the most promising and exciting areas to watch. Deals and Facebook storefronts are just the beginning.

Facebook really wants to help online retailers add a social commerce layer to their e-commerce sites using the company’s open graph, instant personalization plug-in, which would enable brands to gather more insight into what their friends have purchased recently. Levi’s is one company that’s already using this tool. Look for more f-commerce plug-ins that enable retailers to go local, go niche, go mobile and expand on the group coupon concept.

Photo Tagging

In December 2010, Facebook blogged about new and improved photo tagging features that would be launched starting in the U.S. Facial recognition software compares newly uploaded images with those already tagged on the site.

So far, the only part of this that has gone live is the privacy option cited at the time of the announcement — the ability to opt out of tagging suggestions made to your friends, One might have assumed that the photo viewer launch might have included the aforementioned tools, but that’s not the case. So inquiring minds want to know: Whatever happened to the promised enhancement of photo tagging?

New Friend Requests

Facebook started rolling out a new format for the friend request messages that are sent via email. Expect this formatting change to move out of the testing phase and available to all users this year.

More Messages

Facebook recently updated this feature to note which friends like to be contacted via SMS, chat or email. Facebook sees a future though, where phone numbers will be a thing of the past. Instead, contacting a friend will be as easy as selecting their name in Facebook and sharing instantly.

Memorable Status Updates

This feature, rolled out to a limited audience, spotlights the status of individual friends within a new area located on the right side of the screen. Look for Memorable Stories to launch as a full-fledged feature later this year.

Several areas, such as security and privacy tools, will likely experience ongoing upgrades and tweaks. And next month, Facebook Studio, the networking platform for advertisers, holds its first event in New York where the ad world will interact directly with Facebook engineers and developers. Who knows what may come out of those sessions?

Readers, which new Facebook features are you looking forward to and which ones would you add to this list?