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Facebook Still Has High Hopes For Its Apps That Flopped

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New mobile apps launched by Facebook’s Creative Labs have mostly been busts. Facebook Product Manager Josh Miller says it’s a learning process.

A ranking history of Rooms, a standalone application created by Facebook.

AppAnnie

By app ranking standards, most of the new mobile apps coming out of Facebook's “Creative Labs” initiative haven't been particularly successful.

Consider Paper, a news reader, or Slingshot, for sharing photos. Each plays on hugely popular aspects of the core Facebook product. Both have fallen fast in the leaderboards since being launched, and neither have become a smash hit, despite being backed up by the vast reach and promotional power of the world's largest social network.

The problem is partly one of execution, says Facebook product manager Josh Miller, whose company was acquired by Facebook earlier this year. Thus far, one of the company's standalone applications called Rooms — which is similar to Facebook Groups, but without a specific Facebook identity tied to them — fits with that trend, he says: A solid hypothesis for a product, but yet to take off.

“The thing we're really spot on with and have something going for us, we know this is a use case that people care about,” he told BuzzFeed News. “There are definitely things we think we got wrong. Every product changes.”

In order to improve on that execution, Facebook is releasing a few updates to the application Monday to make it a bit more user-friendly. The company is adding a dashboard to track user activity in the app, as well as the option for push notifications with different kinds of sounds. The goal, Miller said, is to help people find it useful beyond other Facebook applications like Groups.

“I've read every single one of the reviews,” he said, when asked about reviews from users who didn't understand what the point of the app was. “The specific review [that] was 'what is the purpose of this?' — that's what we're really onto, and I'm surprised more people aren't building in this space. I do think execution wise we have a lot to work on.”

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