Guardian Facebook app

The Guardian's new Faebook app, which allows users to see what their friends are reading

The Guardian and Independent have become the first UK newspapers to launch a new style Facebook app, unveiled at the social media giant's annual F8 conference in London last night (22 September).

Both are a "new class of apps", according to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and "have the ability not only to change the way we think about news but have the ability to change the way the whole news industry works".

The Guardian and Independent are two of 33 European media brands to have partnered with Facebook to launch the apps. The European list also includes audio platform SoundCloud and international news outlets such as News Corp-owned iPad newspaper the Daily and the Washington Post.

Both the Guardian and the Independent apps are quite different, with the Guardian's, which can be viewed here, located as an app within Facebook and the Independent app sitting on the newspaper's site.

"As we worked with different news organisations there were two camps: people that wanted to bring the social experience onto their sites, like Yahoo [News] and the Independent; and those that wanted the social news experience on Facebook, like Guardian, the Washington Post and the Daily," director of Facebook's platform partnerships Christian Hernandez told Journalism.co.uk.

One feature those who sign up to the apps will experience is the "social nudge" to see what their friends are reading.

Facebook's new apps aim to encourage "frictionless experiences", where users opt in once and avoid being repeatedly asked to agree to allow their friends to see which articles they are reading, enabling "realtime serendipity", as Zuckerberg described it.

The Guardian's head of digital engagement Meg Pickard told Journalism.co.uk that "if you see 15 of your friends have read an article, that could be very interesting in terms of traffic."

Independent Facebook app

Hernandez told the conference that the Independent wanted to do "something a bit different".

Viewers get a "social experience next to every article" on the Independent's own site, he added.

"This is a new, very exciting way to share a little bit more of the Independent and we are delighted to be a launch partner," Jack Riley, head of audience and content development at the Independent said.

Another interesting development for news sites is the unveiling of the new 'recommendation bar', which has three actions: 'read', 'listen' and 'watch'. Any blog or news site can add this and users can "actively or passively share what they are reading with their friends", according to Hernandez.

Once a user opts in they automatically share all the articles they have read while having the controls to cancel sharing.

French news sites Le Monde and L'Equipe will be among the first to launch the recommendation bar, which will be introduced when a new timeline feature is also rolled out.

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