September 24, 2020

Podcasts and Travel Apps? Facebook Is Working on Those

Some apps from the endeavor have already been released. They include Aux, a social music app, and Bump, a matchmaking app for students, which were previously reported by the technology publication The Information. The apps were available on Google Play and Apple’s App Store, and Bump was labeled “offered by the NPE Team, from Facebook.”

Some insiders said the effort might be a way for Facebook to ship new apps without the baggage of the social network’s name. The company has said the slightly separate branding will help prepare people for the possibility that the apps could change drastically or shut down with little notice.

“We expect many failures,” the company said in the NPE Team announcement post. “We also want to minimize disruption to the billions of people who use Facebook apps every day.”

Inside Facebook, executives have described the initiative as separate from its main family of apps. To find the next big product or feature, they said, those on the NPE Team need to feel open and not constrained. Revenue is not a primary concern, they said.

Early ideas include breaking into the travel industry and planning itineraries and things to do, as well as combining travel activities with the most “Instagrammable” locations in an area, one of the people said. Other concepts have focused on “neighborhood” communities, tools for creating newsletters and fact-checking “fake news,” and apps for vehicles.

Audio services also seem ripe for disruption, the people said. The wealth of information that Facebook has on users from its News Feed could easily provide a personalized listening experience, they suggested.

Not all ideas are aimed at consumers. Some have tackled issues that large companies face, like software that might improve meetings, a Facebook version of email, an automatic transcription service and a PowerPoint-style service rethought in a kind of Instagram Stories format.

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