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Facebook's Frictionless App Frenzy Will Make Your Life More Open

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking at the F8 Developer's Conference in September 2011.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking at the F8 Developer's Conference in September 2011.

On a day during which many Internet users protested a bill that could limit the amount of content across the Internet, Facebook is rolling out major new changes that it hopes will greatly increase the amount of content on its own site.

At a media event in San Francisco, Facebook project manager Carl Sjogreen unveiled a wide expansion of the "frictionless" applications his company announced in September, revealing 60 new apps that can can share a host of personal information on Facebook users' Timelines and Tickers.

Facebook users could already post to Facebook any actions they took on approved apps, but what's different is now they can do so without "friction," or any lag time whatsoever between what they do on the app and when it shows up on Facebook. They also don't have to specifically approve every action that's posted to the social networking site.

"Frictionless" apps are so named because they do not require the user to take any action in order for the app to share its information to Facebook -- the sharing occurs automatically and instantaneously after you give the app permission to do so

Examples of frictionless apps that have already been available on Facebook include Spotify, which lets you share whenever you've listened to a song, or the Washington Post news reader, which lets you share whenever you've read an article on the newspaper's website; with Sjogreen's announcement, the options for what kinds of activities these applications can share have expanded. New frictionless apps can broadcast whenever you cook a recipe, study for a test, play a computer game, and more.

Though Facebook will initially launch just sixty of this new breed of app (in addition to the handful already available) in the coming days, Sjogreen also announced an expedited application process for interested app developers and companies, which are available on Facebook's developers page.

Other notable apps that will become frictionless on Facebook include RottenTomatoes, TripAdvisor, Digg, and Pinterest. In many cases, the instantaneity of the app posting to Facebook is meant to foster social interaction between friends: Spotify allows you to listen to songs with a friend; RunKeeper allows you to post the trail you're running if friends want to join; Kobo could help ignite dialogue about what you're reading and studying. In September, Facebook released a YouTube video meant to highlight the best-case uses for frictionless apps and the way they can bring people together and get them communicating online:

Frictionless apps were one of the touchstones of September's F8 Facebook Developer's Conference, a transformational event at which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg first introduced the overhaul of both the site's overall design and the way people can post to their profiles. In addition to the now-familiar Timeline profile and Ticker box in the upper righthand corner of the Facebook homepage, Zuckerberg also introduced a "completely new class of social apps," which he said would allow users to share "a magnitude more" information about themselves, since the sharing happens automatically rather than manually (and also, HuffPost's Bianca Bosker notes, gives Facebook "a magnitude more" information about its users to sell to advertisers).

With Sjogreen's announcement Wednesday evening, dozens of new applications will gain the power to frictionlessly and immediately share their content to Facebook, whether you're eating a meal, reading a book, planning a trip or laughing at a cartoon online. At F8, Zuckerberg boasted that with frictionless sharing, developers would be able to design apps that would allow users to "verb" any "noun" on Facebook: Facebook comes closer to making good on Zuckerberg's promise with the latest avalanche of frictionless apps, and the scores like them that are sure to follow.

For a complete list of the apps that are launching frictionlessly on Facebook, head over to Techcrunch, which got a photo of all the participating launch companies; the apps that are available for you to try now can be found on Facebook's Open Graph information page, and more information about frictionless apps, how they work, and what they can do can be found at Facebook's blog.

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