In early April, Facebook announced a very significant change to its mobile apps: A Facebook Live tab was to take center place in the app, pushing the Messenger button aside. The tab would offer a dedicated place for users to find live videos — but even though a month has passed since the initial announcement, very few people have seen the feature in the flesh.
Until now, that is. My Facebook app on Android just received the update, and after playing with it for half an hour, I can tell you that this will significantly change the way we use Facebook.
First of all, the Facebook Live button has arguably the most prominent position in the app’s top interface: dead center. As you can see in the screenshot below, my Messenger icon is now above and to the right of the main interface, while the Facebook Live button is nested between friend requests and feed updates.
Clicking on the button leads me to a never-ending, scrollable list of videos, sporting a very visual look that’s unlike anything else on the Facebook Android app.
Even the top menu and the search bar turn dark to make the video viewing experience more enjoyable.
The videos on the list seem to be a mix between Facebook’s guess of your preferences, and whatever is popular now, or has been popular in the last 24 hours. The videos autoplay as you scroll (and, thankfully, auto stop when you keep on scrolling).
Clicking on a live video lets you comment and react right there in a “live” environment, with other folks’ comments whizzing by; if it’s a recorded video, you can comment or react as if you would a standard Facebook post.
Finally, clicking on “Guide” on the top right gives you a list of topics, including World News, TV & Movies, Funny, Politics, Arts & Culture, Health & Fitness, Food, Science & Tech and the like.
By clicking the “+” on the topics, you add them to your preferences, and Facebook will show more of those videos in your Live feed. You can also click on the topics themselves for (presumably) a list of videos, but none of the topics I clicked contained anything except for a “No videos available yet” message.
While I’ll definitely need more time to test out the feature, it’s obvious to me that this is one of the biggest changes in Facebook’s history.
Live video is no longer an afterthought; it’s the central part of the experience.