Facebook has just added a new photo uploader tool to their Prototypes directory, the "labs" section of the social network where new programs are released for testing prior to their public rollout. The uploader dramatically improves on what was previously one of the worst experiences on Facebook: adding photos. Despite the fact that Facebook hosts over 80 billion photos and adds around 2 billion more each month, the process of adding new photos to your profile was cumbersome, slow and buggy. Even Facebook itself admitted there were problems saying that most users found the tool "functional, but only just." They also discovered that a significant percentage of users couldn't even upload photos due to technical issues. Because of these complaints, the company finally decided it was time to revamp their uploader for good.
Believe it or not, the Facebook photo uploader hasn't changed since its introduction in 2005. As it did then, the current tool still relies on a third-party ActiveX control and Java Applet. For users, this meant a photo-uploading experience that felt just as old as it was.
When thinking as to how the new uploader should function, Facebook had a few goals, most of them technical in nature. They wanted the new tool to no longer depend on Java, be compatible with future versions of Facebook's chrome, be easy to update and more. However, to the end user, the best part about the new uploader is that it allows you to start a photo upload and then leave the page to browse around elsewhere on Facebook (or even the web!) while the upload is underway.
Install the New Photo Uploader Tool
To install the new uploader, you must first visit the Prototypes page for the tool and activate it for your profile. Then, the next time you go to create a new album, you'll be prompted to install the Facebook plug-in. Once complete, you'll be presented with the new user interface which lets you browse through your computer's photo library and select the images you want to upload. This new interface is much easier to navigate - and more attractive, too - than the old Facebook uploader from days past.
Facebook says the new tool has several additional security mechanisms built in as well, one of the more interesting being a "kill switch" that can remotely deactivate the tool in the event that a security hole is discovered. While confident that the new uploader is already securely designed and architected from the start, the company has released it as a prototype first so people can report any security issues they may find.
Less technically-minded folks can simply activate the tool and use it, reporting any problems they find as well as far as user experience issues, crashes or other bugs. Depending on the results of the tests, Facebook will be able to correct any problems prior to rolling it out to all users. If you want to give the new uploader a shot yourself, you can do so by visiting its page here.