We’ve escaped Las Vegas. While a few of us were stricken by the CES Death Flu, and poor Danny Mak was rather more literally struck by a car whilst crossing Paradise Road, we got out of Sin City not much the worse for wear. Tired, sure, but alive — and that’s good, because we had to jump right into the fray again with big news out of the Zuckerberg camp this week.
At a private event in San Francisco, Mark Z himself introduced the world to something new from Facebook. No, it isn’t the dedicated Facebook Phone people have been talking about since long before HTC inserted a little blue button with an ‘f’ on it into the Status. Instead, we got the new Facebook Graph Search, something those with profiles on the service probably didn’t know they wanted — and, frankly, may not actually want.
Put simply, Graph Search is a way for users to query information about their connections on Facebook, but it goes deeper than that, letting you discover relations and behaviors shared between your friends — and presumably strangers too, if their privacy settings are suitably lenient. The key example given by project lead Lars Rasmussen was of moving to a new town and needing to find a dentist. By querying Graph Search, he can see which of his friends live in a given area and can go further by seeing which have mentioned liking (or hating) a dentist.
While it’s very limited at the moment, the concept could be extended into every aspect of your activities on the social network, including querying which of your friends have a birthday in June, which of your friends drive Subarus and which of your friends listened to Katy Perry last week. And, if there’s something you search for that Facebook can’t find internally, it’ll hand the query over to Bing.
The early phases of testing Graph Search will only be open to maybe a few thousand individuals — but a drop among the millions willfully shoveling the details of their lives to fuel Facebook’s furnace.
Disconcerting? Maybe a little, but we were assured at the event that all will be able to be fully controlled by privacy settings when the feature rolls out. That’ll take a while. The early phases of testing Graph Search will only be open to maybe a few thousand individuals — but a drop among the millions willfully shoveling the details of their lives to fuel Facebook’s furnace. When it’s your turn, make sure to get those privacy settings right, lest it be your secret craving for pop rock that’s discovered.
As we get closer to the January 30th launch of BlackBerry 10 we’ve been seeing more and more of the operating system and hardware it’ll be running upon. Over the past week we saw a very detailed video walkthrough of the Z10 handset, got pictures of a white version of that phone, confirmed Twitter and Google Talk integration and thumbed our way through a sales training document that indicates a massive 70,000 apps will be ready for download at launch. Mind, that’s about 10 percent of the number of apps available in the Play Store or iOS App Store by last count, but it’s a healthy start.
Google announced it’s going to start letting developers get time with Project Glass at the end of the month. At developer events ranging from January 28th to February 2nd, those who pre-registered at Google I/O last year (and who were willing to pay the $1,500 fee for early access) can sit in on two-day training courses on how to write apps that use the specs. We now know it’s a REST API for controlling the things, a simple interface that should make app development easy — but might also be a confining limitation for those who were hoping to take full control of all Project Glass has to offer.
We’ll be taking you briefly back to CES in this week’s Distro, taking a look at the battle for control of the second screen that is really coming to a head. We also have our Best in Show awards for the things that really stood out to us from the floor, plus a detailed explanation of just what Ultra HD is, and whether you need to start saving up for a new flat-panel TV. Ross Rubin talks about compromising for the greater good in Switched On, Joshua Fruhlinger politely requests that social networks stop trying to figure him out in Modem World and we’re going to show you what a wall of 3D printers looks like. Now, put your feet up and enjoy this week’s issue of Distro — and please excuse us while we try to catch up on some sleep.
Tim Stevens is Editor-in-chief of Engadget and Editorial Director for AOL Tech. You can find him on Twitter at @tim_stevens.
This piece originally appeared in Distro #74.