Yet another major Internet company has staked a claim to the project collaboration market. Facebook has announced the launch of Facebook Groups, a new standalone app specifically aimed at helping teams collaborate on projects.
The announcement follows moves by both Microsoft and Evernote to make their platforms more attractive to enterprise clients looking for better ways to manage communications between team members.
Facebook said the Groups functionality is designed to help people share information faster and more easily with "all the groups in their life.” While the new app seems primarily geared toward enterprise collaboration, it can also be useful for student groups as well as friends looking to coordinate activities and schedules.
Another Creative Labs App
The app, which became available on iOS and Android devices on Tuesday, consists primarily of functionality that already existed as part of the main Facebook platform. More than 700 million people use the current Group function on the main Facebook page.
With Groups as its own app, the company seems to be continuing with a trend of unbundling capabilities away from the main social network. Facebook did something similar when it spun out its Messenger functionality into its own app earlier this year.
Groups comes from Facebook’s Creative Labs, an internal team of designers that has been responsible for other apps such as Paper, a news reading application similar to Pocket; Slingshot, which Facebook billed as a Snapchat competitor; and Mentions, a tool designed primarily for celebrities and marketing departments to track the number of mentions they receive on social media. In addition to building its own internal stable of apps, Facebook has been on a buying spree, snapping up companies like WhatsApp and Instagram.
Unlike Messenger, the company is not going to force users to migrate to the new app, so people can continue to use Groups through the main Facebook site. The company has said it would not sell advertising on the app, at least for now.
A Better Way to Access Groups
The standalone app will provide a much easier way for Facebook members to access and manage groups from their phones, according to the company. Upon opening the app, users will be able to see all of the groups they belong to in one place, with more frequently accessed groups arranged at the top.
The new app also allows users to quickly create new groups and manage notifications. Facebook is also pitching Groups as a better way to discover new groups to join. A “Discover” tab make recommendations based on the user’s history of page likes, city of residency, and groups their friends belong to. Users can also create separate iOS icons for each of their groups, and have them placed on their phones' home screens for easier access.