Facebook is many things: a community for your hometown friends to share conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton, a network that allows your mom to “like” your breakup, and the place where you will inevitably plan your next birthday party. Despite all of the wacky things that have occurred and will occur in our feeds, Facebook’s event planning tool has always been a solid way to organize friends for beers.
Which is why it makes complete sense that Friday the company is launching a separate standalone app called Events to help you keep track of upcoming get-togethers. It’s amazing that Facebook waited this long to do it.
The app itself is simple enough: Open it up, and you’ll arrive at a home feed of upcoming events that you want to attend, or maybe want to attend, or that you’ve said you maybe want to attend just to be polite because there’s no way you’re going to Queens. Mixed in with all that are other gatherings that your friends are “interested” in checking out — useful information for the sake of avoiding or stalking someone. Elsewhere in the app, there’s a map-based feature that will recommended nearby things to do in your area, as long as you feel OK giving up your location. Oh, and there’s a screen that organizes everything you’ve RSVPed to in a traditional calendar view that conveniently integrates appointments from your other calendars. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on who you are) everything you do on the app shows up on Facebook proper, too. Which means that if the ease and convenience of Events leads you to RSVP and hit “interested” more, you will be in danger of event-bombing your friends within the News Feed. (A true disappointment for anyone who used the “interested” feature as a bookmark.)
It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’ll prevent people from missing that Wednesday-night book reading they actually really wanted to go to, and maybe even tell them about other good ones coming up. What’s more notable about this app is that it’s something we actually wanted from Facebook, something that solved a pain point.
Remember all the dumb apps that came before this and failed? There was [extremely John Steinbeck voice] Poke and Camera and Paper and Slingshot and Riff and Rooms and Notify and Groups and Moments. (Those last two haven’t actually been killed yet, but there’s no way you knew that.) You might recall the time Facebook debuted the Messenger app, because the company straight forced you to download it. But mostly, Facebook has spent a significant chunk of the mobile revolution creating “Snapchat killers” or news delivery services or an app for celebrities rather than focusing on the more humble needs of its user base.
Events solves problems for users on the go. No longer will we have to navigate through the motherland app’s menu to search for the address of a party or scramble to triangulate which of your friends might be nearby, if you get bored at the aforementioned party. It’s not a moonshot, or something that will change the world, or a way to undermine Snapchat. It’s just a practical thing to have on your phone — what a refreshing concept.