Facebook Launches New Apple Watch App
Since its inception late last year, Facebook’s new product experimentation team has been busy devising new minor Facebook products that are designed to bring greater functionality to the social media platform and also integrate with non-Facebook products to widen the potential customer base of their brand. We’ve already seen some interesting new developments from them within the past few weeks, including ‘Tuned’ – a product described as a ‘digital scrapbook’ for couples to archive their romantic history. Now, they’ve come up with a new piece of software designed to make your Apple Watch a little more social.
The new piece of software is called ‘Kit,’ which aside from being a snappy name, is an acronym for ‘Keep In Touch,’ and it’s a very niche product. It will only be available to Apple Watch users, and it will allow watch wearers to send emojis, broadcast their location, or even send a short voice message to a fellow Apple Watch wearer with just a few touches of the watch’s screen.
In keeping with the way that Facebook NPE products have been brought to the market in recent months, the company hasn’t conducted a press launch or briefing event about the new app. Instead, it quietly appeared on the App Store last week.
We’ve seen Facebook experiment with multiple new platforms during the past twelve months. Two of their most visible new innovations have been Libra – a cryptocurrency which is yet to become available – and Facebook High 5 Casino – an integrated online slots website that runs from within Facebook’s website, you may also find a list of mobile slots of High 5 Casino. They’ve had more success with their Facebook-branded online slots than they have with Libra, as there are currently more than one million followers of the casino’s Facebook page. Online slots are likely to draw a lot more revenue than apps for smartwatches, which probably goes some way to explaining the greater focus on that particular innovation.
If you’re an Apple Watch user and you’ve used your device for messaging purposes before, you’re probably wondering how it differs from the iMessage function that comes with the watch by default. There isn’t a substantial difference between the range of facilities on offer between the two apps, other than the fact that Kit contains text-to-speech functionality that doesn’t exist within iMessage. The big advantage from Facebook’s point of view is that all data sent between users on Kit is routed via their Facebook Messenger software.
Curiously, Facebook Messenger is already available as an app for the Apple Watch and comes with greater functionality than Kit does. This could be a simple way of offering users a ‘stripped back’ version of Facebook Messenger, or alternatively, it could be a way of trying to get people using Facebook products without using the Facebook name.
The purpose of Facebook’s NPE team, which was quietly launched last July, is to develop small-scale experimental products and run them for a few months to determine whether or not there’s an audience for them. If no audience appears, the products are quietly discontinued.
So far, aside from the aforementioned ‘Tuned’ app for couples, we’ve seen an app that looks and works almost exactly like Pinterest, a meme-generating app that mimics the functionality of the popular Meme Generator website, and several music-making and music-sharing apps that have been aimed directly at college students. It’s thought that any product that shows promise will eventually become directly integrated with either Facebook or Facebook Messenger, and in the process shifting existing users of the products onto Facebook.
To connect to a contact using Kit, you first have to scan a QR code on your watch or enter a code on Facebook’s ‘Devices,’ page, after which you can select a specific contact who you want to make a Watch connection with. By doing this, a network of close contacts is built – thus allowing for a greater focus on personalization than Facebook Messenger currently allows. Using this method, it seems Facebook wants to make it easier and faster to send and receive messages between close friends and family without having to navigate a sub-menu and specifically locate the contact you want to communicate with. To paraphrase the information that’s listed on App Store, it’s a way of staying in close communication with a trusted friend or loved one without having to touch your phone to do so.
This is the first-ever product from Facebook’s NPE team that’s been made specifically for the Apple Watch, although it’s not thought that Apple had any input in the creation of the product.
At the time of writing, it’s impossible to say whether Kit has caught on as an idea or not. It isn’t currently ranked in Apple’s App Store chart, and some reports we’ve seen suggest that it isn’t currently available outside Canada and some states in the USA. Users in Europe cannot currently access or download Kit, and that may remain the case for the duration of the product’s trial. If enough users interact with Kit, it’s likely that it will be made available for the rest of the world at a later date.
Facebook’s NPE team appears to be in a phase of high activity at the moment, with new products and apps launching almost every week. Not all of them will survive for long. As we’ve seen in the past from the launch and closure of Poke, Slingshot, and Lifestage (all unsuccessful attempts to replicate the popularity and appeal of Snapchat), the company doesn’t dwell on mistakes and will move on quickly if an innovation falls flat. As always, we’ll be watching their activity closely and reporting back on anything that we believe our readers might find interesting or useful. In the meantime, thanks for stopping by and reading our article today!
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