Ever notice just how static Facebook profiles are? I mean, you’ve got an unchanging profile picture, a status update, and a biographical wall of text. It’s surprisingly homogeneous for a social network that ostensibly aims to project your individuality, and frankly a bit boring. But not for much longer.
The long-neglected Facebook profile page is, at least on the mobile side, finally getting some attention. The most conspicuous change is photos: They’re now centered on the screen as opposed to off in the top-left corner, as was the previous behavior. They’re larger, too, and support animation. You read that right: if you so choose, you can select a looping clip up to 7 seconds in length instead of a pic. (If nothing else, it’s at least justification for Live Photos on the iPhone 6S.)
And profile pics are now a little more ephemeral. You can, if you so choose, select a temporary photo that’ll revert back to the old one after a specified period of time. If that seems like a feature addressed at the sort of activism that cropped up around debates against SOPA and PIPA and the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage, you’re right — before, advertising your support for a cause would require effort. Now, Facebook will handle the hard part.
The new mobile profiles are more than skin deep, though. Unlike the old template, which prioritized recent followers and new posts and hid photos and friends behind tabs, the redesigned profile puts visual content front and center. It retains some basic information — your place of work, the school you attended, and your birthday, for instance — but prominently displays a brief (fewer than 101 characters), descriptive, emoji-supporting bio up top and publicly shared photos down below. A new multi-section grid of pictures split between “featured” and “recent” occupies most of the redesigned page, and the Timeline’s been relegated to a bookend.
The new features are partly intended to help inject pizazz. “We’ve seen a lot of people ‘hack’ their profiles to show bits of their personality like nicknames,” a Facebook spokesperson told Wired. “We wanted to give [them] a new, freeform space […] to do that.” But the changes are targeted at the other end of the social media equation, too: Friends and lurkers who care more about people’s bios and photos than, say, their last check-in. “We’re just trying to balance out the information that might be more important to people when they’re visiting profiles,” Faceboook product manager Aryeh Selekman told The Verge.
Haven’t had time to write a pithy bio or capture the perfect vid? Not to worry — Facebook’s testing the new features on a “small number” of iPhone users in California and the U.K. before rolling them out more broadly. When they do hit your profile, any changes you make on mobile — e.g., animated pics — will reflect on the Web.