Facebook Will Splinter Services Into Standalone Apps

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facebookemebedPhoto: Courtesy of Facebook.
Soon, the blue button on your smartphone won't be your go-to for news, messages, and photo sharing anymore. That's right: Facebook is getting ready to break up.

Well, "unbundle" is more like it. Currently, the social network lets you access most of its features through a centralized Facebook app, but the company now plans on giving some services room to grow on their own.

Earlier this year, Facebook announced the arrival of Creative Labs, a sort of incubator within the company devoted to creating single-serving apps that aren't folded into the rest of the mobile Facebook experience. The gesture-controlled Paper was the first of these projects. And, as Farhad Manjoo at the The New York Times explains, it won't be the last: "Now, on mobile phones especially, Facebook will begin to splinter into many smaller, more narrowly focused services, some of which won’t even carry Facebook’s branding, and may not require a Facebook account to use."

For users, this might be freeing — or just annoying. Facebook already announced that it would no longer support instant messaging in its regular apps, and that users will need to install a new Messenger-only app, instead. For people who primarily use Facebook for messaging, that's great — they'll have a leaner, faster app just for that purpose. For those who prefer all-in-one solutions, it's not great news.

The move isn't intended to simply break up Facebook's existing products, though. It also gives the company's developers a chance to build new apps, like Paper, that don't otherwise fit into the overall aesthetic and user experience of Facebook. It also opens up Facebook-owned products to users who might otherwise resist using the social network.

Basically, look forward a slew of shiny, new buttons and a way to sound more convincing when you say you're totally not looking at Facebook on your phone. (NYT)