Facebook has rolled out an expanded notifications tab, reminiscent of Google Now. Instead of a list, Facebook will now show a series of ‘cards’ that tells you about friends’ milestones and life events, sports scores and TV reminders, and upcoming events – plus information relevant to where you are.
For instance, it will show information about the weather in your area, local news and events, movies playing in your region and recommendations for local eateries.
This is all pegged to your location history in your Facebook app.
According to the blog post from Facebook product manager Keith Peiris, you can customise the cards displayed, or add more cards depending on your interests – more local news maybe, but fewer sports scores.
For now, Facebook can only personalise based on pages you’ve “liked”, which isn’t something the average user does a lot, so the predictable next step could be personalised notifications based on data that Facebook collects about your browsing habits, including publications you read regularly or adverts you click on.
This update is a move towards services like Google Now, which provide contextual information without you having to ask for it. The recent feature “Now on Tap” gets you help based on the context of what’s currently on your mobile screen.
“So say you are chatting with someone about a restaurant – you would usually go to Chrome and search for it.
But long-press on your home screen for Now on Tap and we automatically show a card with information about the restaurant itself, plus next actions like pulling up menu or calling or navigating there,” said Behshad Behzadi, one of Google’s principal engineers for Now on Tap.
Both services are a way to leverage data that Google or Facebook have collected on you – your location, social graph, conversations and historic behaviours – to assist you with information and even services before you even have to ask.
Facebook did recently start testing M, a virtual assistant that lets you use Messenger to order food from a restaurant or call, say, Amazon’s customer service to get refund on an item you returned – it combines the powers of human assistants and artificial intelligence.
The Facebook update is going to first roll out for iOS and Android users in the United States.