23 December 2014

Facebook Year in Review - 2014 edition

As it has done last year, at the end of 2014 offers a summary of your most important moments throughout the year. There are some interesting differences though: true to the commitment of building everything ‘mobile-first’, this time the experience is heavily optimized for mobile users. I am biased maybe because I discovered this year-in-review for 2014 in my iPhone app, but it looks considerably better on a smartphone screen (navigation by swipe-gesture, full-screen sections) than on desktop (a single, rather narrow column, overlaid on the rest of the site). On the downside though, I don’t see the year-in-review featured anywhere in the mobile app or on the web site. Maybe Facebook wants it to spread virally, from one friend to the next, but it feels a bit strange not to receive some sort of notice. If you want to build it directly, the old web address is still available: facebook.com/YearInReview.

Otherwise, the process is similar to last year’s: Facebook automatically generates a ‘story’ from the pictures and statuses shared in 2014, focusing on the most popular content, and predominantly pictures. You can customize the cover photo and choose a theme from six predefined, remove some sections, add or remove photos from individual sections (up to 4 in each). The customization feels a bit unfinished though, especially replacing pictures: you need to navigate through your albums, but there’s no indication when the photo was taken, so you could easily add photos to the wrong section. I guess the problem comes partially from the way I upload photos on Facebook – mainly through Instagram, so they all end up in the same album. If other people organize photos better, adding each holiday or event to a different album, it might make things clearer – but then again, if you share hundreds of photos here, are you going to take the time to scroll through all to find that perfect picture for the year-in-review post? Probably not… The flow ends with an amusing prompt, sign it with a selfie, which I obviously didn’t do. It simply chose my profile picture instead.

  • Facebook 2014 Year-in-Review: cover from Alex
  • Facebook 2014 Year-in-Review: Winter season from Alex
  • Facebook 2014 Year-in-Review: my month of April
  • Facebook 2014 Year-in-Review: finishing up

Update: in a stark reminder of the lack of human touch behind Facebook’s algorithms, an article describing how Year in Review put the picture of the author’s dead daughter front and center…

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