8 apps to enhance your Facebook experience

The majority of Facebook users likely have no idea that the company's Creative Labs division built a collection of mobile apps to enhance the core Facebook experience. Here's a look at all of them, along with details on why you might want to use them.

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8 apps from Facebook Creative Labs

Facebook's ambitions don't always fall neatly into a single app or category. In an effort to develop multiple apps at breakneck speed within a company that's now worth more than $250 billion, Facebook created its Creative Labs division. During the 19 months since its inception, the group of developers, engineers and product managers released eight applications. Some were lauded for innovative design, unique features and intuitiveness, while others seem like simple copycat apps. Check out the following eight slides for a look at the fruits of Facebook Creative Labs.

 

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Paper

Release date: Jan. 29, 2014

Availability: iOS only

What is Paper?: Paper turns the traditional Facebook News Feed into a more immersive, and less-distracting, experience on Apple mobile devices. You can browse posts in full-screen layout and customize other sections to follow their favorite topics or publishers of interest. The app supports "thumb-through" gestures for a more natural article reading experience, and it lets you explore high-resolution photos in greater detail by tilting the screen. In short, Paper is a stripped-down version of Facebook that's less crowded and more focused.

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Slingshot

Release date: June 17, 2014

Availability: Android and iOS

What is Slingshot?: Slingshot is one of Facebook's many shots across the bow at Snapchat, the "disappearing" video app. Like Paper, it's similarly stripped down to the bare essentials. You can send photos or 15-second video loops to Friends, or groups of Friends — but there's a catch: You must reciprocate before you can view any content shared with you. Unfortunately, the app's emphasis on reciprocation, and reactive (and addictive) sharing, makes for awkward conversation flow.

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Facebook Mentions

Release date: July 9, 2014

Availability: iOS

What is Facebook Mentions?: Facebook Mentions is designed for public figures, whom Facebook verifies, and who actively maintain pages on the platform. The app is meant to be a conduit between actors, athletes, musicians, celebrities and their followers. Users share live video, interact with fans, view trending stories and share updates from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, all in one app. The celebrities and other users can also host live Q&As and view comments posted on the videos and content they share in real time.

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Rooms

Release date: Oct. 23, 2014

Availability: iOS

What is Rooms?: Facebook's Rooms app lets you anonymously create and join small online communities formed around specific topics. The app doesn't require personal information to sign up and it operates independent of Facebook's user data, meaning the app doesn't utilize all that Facebook user information. It's a bit of a throwback to what the Internet used to be before the dawn of social-media-persistent identities and countless logins. The content feeds are similar to what you see in other social networking apps, but Rooms is tailored to enrich specific topics, trends or ideas. The team behind the app encourages users to "celebrate the sides of yourself that you don't always show to your friends." As such, nicknames and pseudonyms are encouraged, and you can use different names in different rooms, for added anonymity.

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Facebook Groups

Release date: Nov. 18, 2014

Availability: Android and iOS

What is Facebook Groups?: Facebook Groups is a dedicated app for the popular Facebook Groups feature, which is used by more than 700 million people each month. The app provides a less distracting space for you to engage, follow and share with Groups you participate in on Facebook. In an effort to make the experience on Facebook more personal, the company encourages you to create Groups for just about anything, but they're especially usually for families, teams, neighborhoods, schools and organizations.

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Riff

Release date: April 1, 2015

Availability: Android and iOS

What is Riff?: Riff is a collaborative video app that lets you create short videos and then invite others to tack their own clips on at the end. You simply start videos, describe what they're about — "Wish Betty a happy birthday" or "Share your favorite moment from the concert last night," for example — and ask Facebook Friends to add their own clips. The Riff team also regularly features video designed to highlight the app's potential for exponential growth and creativity, such as this video from the cast of "An American in Paris," a Broadway show.

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Hello

Release date: April 22, 2015

Availability: Android only

What is Hello?: Hello is an app from Facebook's Messenger team that connects with the site and lets you see more information about who calls you, block unwanted calls, and search for people and places. Hello shows you information about who's calling you, even if the person is not one of your contacts. However, the app displays only contact details people share on Facebook. If the person who calls you isn't a Friend, or doesn't publicly share contact information on Facebook, you're out of luck. Hello can also help find local business information, make restaurant reservations and get directions.

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Moments

Release date: July 15, 2015

Availability: Android and iOS

What is Moments?: Facebook wants to make it even easier for friends and family to share photos of special events, trips or individual moments in a private forum. Moments lets you share and receive photos that might otherwise go unseen because they're trapped on other your phone. The app groups photos together based on who's in them and when they were taken, so you can sync the right photos with the people who are in them. Friends can add their photos to Moments, as well, to create a growing photoset of gatherings from a variety of vantage points.