Earlier this year, Twitter rolled out a new feature called hovercards, which offer a preview of a user’s information when you “hover” your mouse pointer over their username. Today, Facebook is getting its own version of hovercards and the feature looks to be going live site-wide.
The feature, first noticed last April, gives Facebook users a quick way to get info and interact with users without leaving the current page and could alter the way we interact on (and off) the site.
While the “hovercards” don’t seem to be live for everyone quite yet, an informal poll shows that the feature has gone live for many of you. According to Facebook, the feature went live in April but it now uses a larger box with a larger profile picture view and thumbnails of mutual friends. Simply hover your mouse pointer over a person’s name and a little box will appear after a few seconds that shows the larger picture, their name and a link to send them a message. If you’re not friends yet, you can also send a friend request directly from the box.
If, in your daily (hourly?) Facebook navigtion, you’ve ever wondered who someone was but didn’t want to lose your place in the timeline, then you’ve likely opened up their profile in a new tab. The hovercards make this quick and simple now, offering a base level of information and some social context on how you may or may not know them.
The feature increases the likelihood for users to make even more connections on the site, as a simple mouseover suddenly gives social context and increases the chance that you’ll click that “Add as Friend” link. Does someone look familiar? Maybe they have five mutual friends that you know from riding bikes around town or maybe they know the same people you know from college.
Facebook’s hovercards go one step further in increasing interaction between its users and moving the site to a fully real-time experience, such as by making it even easier to send a message and interact without having to leave what you’re doing. Clicking on “Send a Message” opens up a window in the middle of the page without interrupting your browsing of the site.
At the same time, we have to wonder why the new feature doesn’t go a few steps further. For example, you can see who someone knows, but why not what school they go to or where they work? Pending their privacy settings, wouldn’t these be helpful contextual clues on figuring out whether or not you want to interact with someone?
The next step we wonder about, of course, is if we’ll begin to see this functionality offered off-site. Look just below this post, for example, and you’ll see Facebook’s “Like” button. If any of your friends like this article, you’ll see a picture of them and their name. How long will it be until the hovercard will make it here too?