Seven great Facebook applications

A couple of days ago I wrote about how Facebook applications are beginning to reveal their potential. It feels like a good time for me to review some of my favourite Facebook apps (in addition to Scrabulous and Neighborhoods which I already wrote about in the other post). I will start with the apps related to one of my favourite websites.

Last.fm

Last.fm got off to a bad start on Facebook Platform when it was shunned by the Facebook bigwigs in favour of iLike and Mog. As such, it was an agonising week or so before an official Last.fm app was unveiled. In the meantime, a plethora of unofficial apps were hurriedly made.

To illustrate how damaging the delay was to Last.fm, iLike (which was practically unknown prior to its presence on Facebook) now has 6.4 million users on Facebook. Meanwhile, both official Last.fm apps combined have just 138,000. Yowch!

iLike seems to appeal to a lot of Facebook users, but I just don’t get it. All it amounts to is a bunch of crappy thirty second long audio clips. Meanwhile, the Last.fm apps bring together everything that I love about Last.fm itself.

Last.fm Music displays my top twelve artists of the past week. Alongside sits the playlist that I described on this blog a few weeks ago. In a sense, I have made a mixtape ready for all of my Facebook friends to listen to! This is awesome! None of that thirty second clip nonsense.

You don’t even have to be a member of Last.fm to use the app and make your own playlist, so there are no excuses. This ought to be spread far and wide.

The other official Last.fm app is a simple box that displays what you are currently listening to. Cunningly, they have called it What I’m Listening To. Intriguingly, this app seems to hush up the connection with Last.fm, even though this time around you do need to be a Last.fm member to use it!

Formula 1 Picks

This is another way to showcase my failure at everything (as if Scrabulous wasn’t bad enough).

Formula 1 Picks allows you to select your favourite Formula 1 drivers. Slick logos appear for each driver that you choose. The colours relate to the driver’s team, although I would prefer the driver’s helmet to be displayed as well.

However, if you are like me (and many other F1 fans — tifosi spring to mind) you tend to support teams rather than drivers. This application does not yet allow you to select which teams you support, although this is promised. In addition, it is promised that you will be able to select your favourite circuits as well as drivers and teams from the past.

This has one advantage over an application such as Sports Fan which allows you to select from a rather messy ragbag of teams and drivers (I counted at least five different variations of ‘Ferrari’, and that was just on the first page!). There are no duplicates and the logos are standardised and slick. However, it is frustrating not to be able to select my favourite teams yet!

Here is where my failure comes in: Formula 1 Picks is also a game. Prior to each grand prix you select three drivers. These picks translate into points. You score 100% of the championship points that your number 1 pick collected at the grand prix, 75% of the points of the number 2 pick and 50% if the points of your number 3 pick.

I have been playing for two grands prix, so my highest possible score was 38. My actual score is 27.5. Matters were not helped by petulant Lewis mucking up my number 1 pick’s chances in Hungary!

Friend Wheel

This is a neat visualisation of all of your Facebook friends. It is quite flexible, with various different display options for you to choose from. It is interesting to look at the tapestry to see the various connections between your friends. One disadvantage is that it does not update automatically, so you need to keep on manually updating it to ensure that it stays up to date.

Friend Wheel has proved massively popular. But the ‘friend visualisation’ is nothing new, and another application provides a more traditional way of viewing the connections between your friends.

TouchGraph Photos

Remember those Java applets that visualised your LiveJournal friends? This is a more polished version of that for Facebook. It’s quite neat, but beware. Its focus is on photographs. This means that the first thing you see when you launch the visualisation is those embarrassing drunken photos. Oh dear!

The Political Compass

We all know The Political Compass. It is the granddaddy of online political tests, much imitated but seldom bettered. I have posted about my position on the compass on this blog roughly once a year to track my progress.

This Facebook application allows you to display your position on your profile and compare it to your friends’ positions. Four of my friends have taken it so far. Slightly disconcertingly, I am the most economically right wing of them all, with a dangerously laissez faire score of 0.38. That’s centrist really (the extreme score is 10), but I was amazed that I am even slightly to the right of Angry Steve. Recount!

There are a number of other political tests available as applications on Facebook. Among the most popular is The Washington Post’s lame “are you a libb-rul or conservative?” test that claims to be a compass, then proceeds to chop that compass in half!

Another popular one is The World’s Smallest Political Quiz. It is, as its name suggests, brief. But this means that it lacks the nuance of The Political Compass. It is also made by a libertarian campaign group, Advocates for Self-Government, which surely compromises its neutrality. (Interestingly, in contrast to The Political Compass, I come out as “left liberal” in this quiz!)

Irrepressible.info

Staying on politics and issues, here is something that might be familiar to a lot of bloggers. Many sidebars — including mine — carry a little box containing snippets of content from various publications that have been banned by governments around the world.

It is a project led by Amnesty International with the aim of undermining censorship by publishing banned content in as many places as possible. This Facebook application simply puts some of this content on your Facebook profile. If you have the box on your blog, why not put it on your Facebook profile?

Anything else?

I didn’t think I would end up using so many Facebook Applications, especially since its closest relatives (such as Bebo widgets) are so dire. But I’ve been surprised at how many great uses have emerged — from the trivial time-wasters to the worthy and useful. So, are there any other suggestions? What excellent applications do you have on your Facebook profile?

4 comments

  1. Great, more things to waste time with on Facebook. 🙂 I already had the Friend Wheel and Last.fm Music apps, and have just added Political Compass. I don’t have anything else that’s interesting, other than the purely vanity Where I’ve Been app.

  2. I usually come out a bit more libertarian… Perhaps I was having a particularly centrist day. And people always think I am right wing – I think it’s due to my day to day dealings with the enviro-fascists and other such student politician hippies makes me look right wing from their somewhat biased point of view.

    Not that I don’t play up to it at all… Oh no. Not I.

  3. The Chuck Norris random fact generator. Utterly useless, but then it is Chuck Norris.

    Remember, type Chuck Norris into Google and you get no results. You do not find Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris finds you.

    Also, I quite like the visual bookshelf. I’ve found some decent reads through that.

  4. Come check out the blogTV Facebook application at:
    http://apps.facebook.com/blogtv_live/.

    It enables you to broadcast a live, interactive video show from within your profile page. You can broadcast to your friends, view their broadcasts and chat, invite co-hosts, and record videos.

    Broadcast with this app now to enter our contest to win a trip to the Bahamas for the International Film Festival, or a high-end web cam.

    Special features include:
    – private messages in chat rooms,
    -personal show stats and ratings, and
    -a live embedded player.