Facebook has this week launched another new app via its New Product Experimentation - or NPE - team, which is essentially a new version of the Creative Labs development team that Facebook shut down back in 2015.
The latest app from the NPE crew is called Hobbi, which is a Pinterest-like app for collecting images of hobbies and interests, and sorting them into boards to track your progress.
As per the description of Hobbi on the App Store:
"Hobbi wants to help you document and remember the things you love to do. You can save photos of the projects you’re working on and the activities you love to do, whether it’s cooking, baking, DIY, arts & crafts, fitness or home decor. You can then organize your photos into visual collections in order to see the progress you’re making over time. You might just surprise yourself with how much you have done."
As TechCrunch points out, it's kind of like Pinterest, in that it focuses on DIY hobbies, but it's also not - it's more about tracking your personal progress in order to see how you're developing. You can then create highlight videos of your efforts which you can share with friends and family - so Hobbi is less about showing off your personal interests and more about encouraging participation by logging your own development.
It actually seems like a fairly positive app, though without the social sharing elements, it's also likely to be a fairly niche prospect. In theory, if it were to take off, and Facebook were to expand it, it could be challenger for Pinterest in some respects. But, at least in this initial form, it seems fairly separate in terms of its use case.
Hobbi is the fourth app released by the NPE team since it was announced in July last year.
NPE's other three apps are:
- Whale which enables users to create their own memes with simplified templates and tools
- AUX which is essentially a participatory DJ app, where users try to get their song on a group playlist
- Bump a chat app which aims to introduce students to others in their vicinity
Each app seeks to tap into rising trends via a relatively unique angle, and while none of them appear to have caught on as yet, Facebook's strategy appears to be to just keep throwing things at the wall in order to see what, if anything, sticks.
As noted, the NPE team is similar to Facebook's original app experiment group Creative Labs, which Facebook shut down in 2015 after a series of apps that never caught on. The Creative Labs team was a bit more overt in its experiments - it created 'Slingshot' to take on Snapchat, and 'Riff' as a challenger for Vine. With those apps, Facebook was very clearly taking aim at rising competitors in the market, but with NPE, The Social Network seems to be looking for more unique angles, which, you'd assume, is based on rising usage trends on other platforms.
Indeed, TechCrunch notes that Google has also recently launched a similar DIY collections app called Tangi, which may suggest that both Facebook and Google are seeing a rise in interest in this area via their existing apps.
In this respect, it's interesting to note where Facebook's NPE team is looking - while these app experiments might not gain traction in themselves, they likely reflect what people are searching for, and what users are already doing, which may point to new shifts.
You can download Hobbi from the App Store here.