At the same time as Facebook announced their Open Stream API technology, the company also released a desktop application built with Adobe AIR as a way to demonstrate the sorts of things that the new technology makes possible. With the app, you’re able to interact with your stream just as you would on Facebook, but without the browser. You can even comment and “like” your friends’ stories. But is the new app actually worth installing?
Facebook Desktop for AIR isn’t the only application to take advantage of the new APIs, but it is the first. It also has the benefit of being labeled an “official” application since it’s put out by the company itself. Still, many people will prefer more full-featured clients like Seesmic Desktop, for example, which also includes support for Twitter. The Seesmic folks say they’re working on a new app that will offer full Facebook Open Stream API support and it should arrive shortly.
Installing Facebook for Adobe AIR
Installing the Facebook AIR application is pretty straightforward. After downloading and clicking “install” to get it started, you have to enter in your account information for a one-time authentication process with Facebook.
You then have to give the app permission to access your News Feed and Wall. (You should probably say “Allow Access” to this question since that’s the whole purpose of the app!)
For the last step, you have to click “Allow Publishing” in order for your posts and comments to be published without prompting you.
Using the Application
Now that the application is installed, you can start enjoying it. It’s a really basic application – no bells and whistles here. It’s just the stream, nothing more, nothing less. You can’t search for friends or filter the list to display only your friends in a particular pre-defined list. In fact, you can’t do much of anything but “like” and comment on the posts that stream by. You also can’t force it to refresh on your own, but it will refresh automatically as your friends post new updates.
A box at the top asks “what’s on your mind?” and you can answer by posting a new status message and then clicking “Share.” However, unlike the status update box on Facebook.com, you can’t include a link, photos, or video – just text. Again, very basic stuff here.
But Is it Worth Using?
The short answer for those reading this blog is probably going to be a “no.”
You see, whether or not you’re going to find this application useful is going to depend on how you use Facebook. If you’ve been careful only to add the people whose updates you really care about to your Friend list, it’s possible that you might enjoy what seems like a more personal, quieter version of your usual Twitter application – and one that includes your “real” friends – you know, those guys who say they “just don’t get Twitter?”
But in all honesty, it’s exactly those folks (the Twitter-avoiders) who are more likely to enjoy an application such as this. It’s simple to the point of being almost too basic. That’s why among the tech elite and early adopters, the standalone Facebook AIR app probably won’t gain much traction. Especially when we already have applications that combine the Facebook stream with our Twitter streams. Apps like Seesmic and TweetDeck do this, but they also let us do a lot more advanced configurations, view manipulation, filtering, and searches, too.
For us, we’ll stick with our fancy tools, but we wouldn’t be surprised if this basic app gained a little popularity outside the tech elite bubble.