Facebook users will soon be able to make their profile pictures more animated and lively. The social-networking-site-turned-online-video-powerhouse is testing the ability for users to add GIF-like videos as their profile pictures.
The new profile picture ability takes the form of a seven-second looping video, much the way Vine videos repeat every six seconds. TechCrunch reports Facebook users will be able to record and upload videos directly from their phone. The profile picture clips will auto-play on their profiles and the feed story about the picture update which appears to other users. While sound can be recorded, it won’t auto-play until someone clicks the animated profile image (just as the social site handles audio on its video ads).
Facebook’s Aigerim Shorman, lead on the new profile updates, told TechCrunch where the idea for the profile videos came from. “Earlier this half [year] we were having a brainstorm, and sometimes you find a gem. One of my designers called me over [to look at an engineer’s] Facebook At Work account. But his profile pic was moving. I thought ‘this is going to be a great expression opportunity,’” Shorman explained. “It brought the profile to life. You got to know the person better. So we got inspired to create an option to create a profile video.”
In addition to videos as profile pictures, Facebook noted in a company news post the site is rolling out four other profile-centric updates. The first is the ability to set a temporary profile picture, which you can set to show for a certain time period before expiring and reverting back to your previous profile picture. This feature is useful for those instances when Facebook users want to show their support for a cause or trending topic (like the rainbow-colored profile pictures supporting gay marriage rights) or for personal promotion, but eventually want to swap back to their original profile pictures.
Additionally, Facebook has released an all-new mobile design which puts centered profile photos and a larger sections for photos and friends above users’ timelines. TechCrunch’s Josh Constine believes this redesign is in an effort to show and collect more date on who a user is, as opposed to just what actions he or she takes, so Facebook’s algorithms can gather more biographical info for advertising purposes. Facebook has also made it easier for users to control profile information with a customizable space and new 100-character bio, as well as the option of pinning a featured photo to the top of users’ profiles.
So far, Facebook has only rolled out the video profile pics, and all four other new features, to a select group of iOS users in the UK and California. However, Facebook said the updates will eventually be available to more users in the future, because the site knows the profile improvements “will give people more ways to connect and share with each other, and express themselves in meaningful ways.”