The company will begin to roll out a new look for the notifications tab in its iOS and Android apps in the coming weeks; the redesign will add a suite of assistant-like reminders about your day, friends and other topics based on your preferences and previous activity.
The changes, which Mashable first previewed in April, have been in the works for some time. The updated notifications tab will surface contextual reminders in the form of cards. If you’ve liked the page of a certain team or athlete, for instance, you may see a card alerting you to an upcoming game. Or you may see cards telling you about TV shows you like airing that night.
Currently, users may see 15 different cards, though Facebook product manager Keith Peiris says most will only see between five and seven different cards at any given time. The goal of the cards, he says, is to provide a more personalized experience, and users will be able to fine-tune the types of cards they view — or disable them completely.
In addition to to interest-based cards and ones with news from friends — like life events and birthday reminders — there are series of location-based reminders. If you have RSVPed to an event, you could see a reminder prior to the event letting you know when you should leave in order to arrive on time. Or if a friend from out of town visits your city, you may get an alert letting you know he or she is nearby. You might also see information about new movies playing in theaters nearby.
Users must actively opt in to get the location-based features, and the app must have location history enabled in order to take advantage of the cards. Peiris said the feature will use location history intelligently so as not to negatively impact battery life, an issue Facebook has struggled with in the past.
Facebook is far from the first company to explore predictive notifications. Google (via Google Now) and Microsoft (via Cortana) have made significant efforts to show their users the right notifications at the right time. But unlike Microsoft and Google, Facebook — which is already testing an A.I.-based personal assistant of its own, called M — is framing the new notifications as a way to make the Facebook app a little more useful instead of a full-blown assistant.
“With all of these cards, we felt like there was a notification property to them,” Peiris told Mashable. “I want to know when to leave to show up for an event or I want a notification if my best friend is in town or I want a notification if I’m at a place and there’s really useful information about it. We thought about all of these things as a logical extension of notifications.”
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