- Image via CrunchBase
Facebook has done so well blowing out its core social features – the News Feed, Mini Feed, brand Pages, virtual gifts, applications, and Facebook Connect, to name a few – that it’s amazing how frustrating it is to use some of the basic functionality like search and email. Part of that’s finally about to change, now that Facebook is rolling out trials of an upgraded on-site search engine.
Here’s a snippet of the preview from Facebook’s blog:
With the test, you will be able to search your News Feed for the most recent status updates, photos, links, videos and notes being shared by your friends and the Facebook Pages of which you’re a fan. You will also be able to search for status updates, posted links and notes in Search from people who have chosen to make their profile and content available to everyone.
This is a start. As Read/Write Web notes, this inches closer to the real-time search features that make Twitter so useful, but Facebook’s focus seems to be helping users search their friends’ content, rather than content across all of Facebook. It’s also unclear right now if they’re fixing other fundamental problems – for instance, when you search for groups or Pages, you can’t sort them in any way, such as by the number of members or fans. [Update: TechCrunch reports Facebook will soon make it possible to search content from everyone, and will update privacy options accordingly.]
There’s also a lot Facebook could do to build on this. It’s not as far reaching as Twitter Search, and it’s not as captivating as Google Hot Trends, from what’s been released so far. Really though, it would be a relief if their search engine just worked.
One dream scenario: Microsoft has alerady invested in Facebook, and Bing powers the basic Web search function on Facebook. Now that Microsoft has shown how it can at least deliver a competitive search offering on its own (in some ways, it’s even innovative), it would be fun to see what it could do with Facebook.
Regardless of what the final product looks like when it’s open to all users (it’s live for a small number right now), the big relief is that Facebook is finally getting back to basics. With any luck, upgrades to email will follow in turn.