What 5 recent Facebook changes mean to you

Facebook’s latest overhauls include updates to video, search, notifications and more. Here’s what you need to know.

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Credit: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Following a quiet summer, Facebook ramped up activity this fall, rolling out a handful of new features and product redesigns. 

Last month, the company revamped mobile profiles, unveiling looping profile videos, temporary profile pictures and new privacy controls. Earlier, the social network announced new ways to customize your news feed and launched Security Checkup, a tool that helps you find your account’s security settings. 

Most recently, Facebook’s efforts have centered around overhauling and updating mainstay features including video, search, notifications and notes. Here’s a look at what’s new. 

1. Video

Following the launch of 360 Video in September – a feature that lets you choose the angle from which you watch select clips – Facebook shared more details last month on other ways video is changing. Three of those updates include suggested videos, saved videos and a dedicated video page

Facebook rolled out suggested videos to iPhone users – and is testing the feature with Android phones in the coming months. When a user finishes watching something, additional related videos load. The social network says this update has further boosted video popularity; last year, it announced that users view 1 billion videos on Facebook every day

Because Facebook users are watching more video on their mobile devices, the social network is also testing a button that saves videos to watch later, for the times when you can’t turn on sound. Find this button tapping the drop-down menu beside the post, then tap Save. You can find these videos in your Saved bookmark page. 

Finally, videos are getting their own dedicated page where you can watch content they’ve saved for later, content from Pages they follow and other recommended videos. Find this section by tapping the Videos icon at the bottom of the iPhone app or by visiting the Favorites section on the left side of your news feed on the Web. Facebook is testing this feature with select users, so you may not yet have it. 

2. Search

Last year, Facebook added the capability to search for topics your friends posted about. This made it easier to find a link a friend recently shared or to see what your friends were saying about the Mad Men finale, for example.

This month, Facebook took search a step further and now indexes the entirety of its 2 trillion public posts, making them searchable. While this means that anyone can find anything you posted publicly in the past – for better or for worse – it also gives you an interesting peek into what the Internet is talking about in real time.

If you’re worried about your personal past posts appearing in search, update your privacy settings to Friends.

3. Notifications

Last month, Facebook announced that it’s revamping the Notifications tab in its mobile app. Traditionally, Notifications alerted you when someone interacted with your content, such as liking or commenting on a photo you posted.

The new Notifications tab – similar to Google Now’s service, which displays personalized “cards” for updates like weather, sports scores and flight itineraries – gives you more information about what’s happening on Facebook and around the world. This might include local events and news, weather updates, movies playing nearby, sports scores, TV reminders and friends’ birthdays. Some of these updates are tailored to you based on your location history, and all are customizable.

This feature is rolling out gradually to U.S. users.

5. Notes

Facebook Notes was a stale feature that the social network long ignored – its last major update was in 2010. That changed in September with an overhaul designed to encourage you to use this space to blog.

You now have access to a better template and formatting and design features, such as headers, block quotes, bulleted and numbered lists, cover images and photo resizing. The new Notes supports editing past entries, too, should you want to redesign older posts.

Find Notes on the left-side menu below the Apps header.

5. Music

Last week, Facebook started rolling out a new music feature that lets you preview song clips directly in your feed. Called Music Stories, the feature is currently only available for iOS.

Music Stories pulls music shared to Facebook from Spotify and Apple Music, and repackages them in 30-second clips that you can listen to directly on Facebook. If you preview a song you like, you can save it to the respective streaming service without leaving the app, or click to purchase the song.

Facebook says more services will support Music Stories in the future, and the feature will continue to roll out to more users.

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