Facebook is stepping up its video game with the launch of a new app for TVs.
The Facebook Video App will “roll out soon” to app stores for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TV, the social network announced this week, with more platforms on the way.
The app allows Facebook users to watch videos from the site on their living room screen. Indeed, last year, Facebook rolled out the ability for users to stream videos from Facebook to their TV, and, in a sign that the feature was popular, the app builds upon that. Users can watch videos shared by friends or Pages they follow, as well as stream top live videos from around the world, and recommended videos based on their interests.
It’s a big move forward for Facebook’s competition with YouTube, allowing users to save videos to watch later and share things with each other.
“People are watching and sharing more video on Facebook than ever, and we’re focused on continuously improving the video experience,” Dana Sittler, Product Manager, and Alex Li, Engineering Manager, wrote in a blog post announcing the app.
The social network is also improving upon the way video is used within the normal Facebook platform. The site has attracted controversy with its autoplay feature, which some accuse of artificially inflating views, but Facebook is doubling down on the idea: where videos have previously played silently, until people tap on the video, the site will now make sound fade in and out automatically as users scroll through videos in their News Feed, something that they have been testing for some time with a select number of users. (If your phone is set to silent, videos will not play with sound – and you can turn that feature off in the app’s settings.)
The site is also changing the way vertical videos look on mobile devices, using a larger preview of vertical videos in News Feed on both iOS and Android.
Finally, a picture-in-picture mode is being introduced. Not unlike YouTube’s interface for mobile devices, it allows users to minimise a video and continue to browse and scroll other stories in a News Feed, while it plays in the corner of the screen.