Sometime in early January my roommate (also a Facebook engineer) and I were talking late at night in the office and shared a realization: we both had tons of videos we had taken with our phones and digital cameras, and had nowhere to put them. Of course, plenty of video sharing sites already existed, but none provided useful distribution to our friends (like Facebook's Photos application). Now that consumer mobile phones and digital cameras are perfectly capable of taking good quality video, we knew that it was time to build a video application... on top of the social graph.
With the January Hackathon just around the corner, we had the perfect opportunity to work on Video and show our fellow engineers just how useful we believed it would be. A few months of iteration later, we're very proud to present this to you.
Video is something that's been around on a lot of other sites, but few have truly useful ways to share your videos with your friends. We think we've fixed this problem. We also saw plenty of other issues with the other products out there and tried our best to do better. Here are some of the highlights.
- Videos of your friends are interesting. You can tag your friends in videos just like you would with Photos. Since video on Facebook involves people you actually know, it's much more interesting content and much more relevant.
- Higher quality videos. Our video player has much better quality and privacy controls than most other video sharing sites. We also support many more source formats and we don't letterbox any of our content.
- Video messaging. Video messaging is cool because it is asynchronous, meaning you can send what is essentially "video voicemail" back and forth with a friend or even many friends at once. Plus, it's all integrated into the Inbox.
- Mobile integration. We support most mobile providers, so all you have to do is take a video on your phone and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since Facebook Platform was under development at the same time as Video, the Platform team used Video for cues as to what hooks and features we needed to provide to 3rd party developers. Anyone could have built Video for Facebook, which is why you have to add Video to your account, just like you would add any other application. Enjoy!
Chris Putnam, a Facebook engineer, is heading to Vegas for his 21st birthday and is now unsure if building Video was a good idea.