Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) Home, the application that replaces standard Android home screens with a variation of the user’s Facebook home page — complete with status updates and pictures — has another tool that will have Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) scrambling to emulate it. The name of the tool: Chat Heads. The function: allow the user to chat with friends while simultaneously using another app.
Both Apple and Google have tried, unsuccessfully, to enable users to chat with friends while running another application. Every time, though, the chat app completely takes over the screen and renders the original application basically unusable.
With Chat Heads, reports Tech Crunch, a small bubble of your friend’s face will appear in the top corner of the screen when in conversation. In order to respond to a message, you must simply tap the head and a drop down conversation will appear, but only on part of the screen, thus allowing you to continue using whatever application was originally being run.
As Josh Constine of Tech Crunch points out, “often we are communicating about what we’re computing— giving someone the answer to a question, making a joint decision, guiding someone to a destination, or discussing a piece of content found online.” Chat Heads makes these tasks extremely easy and efficient…
This is all part of Facebook’s efforts to model mobile after face-to-face human interactions. “Technology has always been here to assist us, not to get in our way, not to make us think too much,” says Facebook Director of Product, Peter Deng. “We’re building technologies that are modeled after real life conversations. We start with people and how we’ve been wired for thousands of years to behave. ‘How do you get things closer to face-to-face?’ Everything we do is built on this social principle. What we’re doing today is just the start.”
What we’re doing today is just the start? It will be interesting to see how long it takes for Google and Apple to come out with something similar to Chat Heads for their future smartphones and tablets, but not nearly as intriguing as the notion that Facebook’s innovation is just getting started.
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