Facebook Launches Standalone Groups App

Facebook has been busy rolling out standalone apps this year, and the latest in the slate is a new Facebook Groups app launching Tuesday. It's dedicated solely to the existing Facebook Groups feature, which lets users share posts only with certain people.

It's part of Facebook's big 2014 push to 'unbundle' its main mobile app, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg said to the New York Times earlier this year.

Facebook Groups already exists in the desktop site and mobile app, offering the ability to upload and view posts in secret, closed or open groups rather than friends at large. The new Facebook Groups app features a homepage that displays all of a user's group memberships in one place, allows quick movement between groups and offers a streamlined way to create a new group and check all notifications.

Zuckerberg has spoken at length to investors and members of the press this year about his plans for single-feature standalone apps, which he believes are the future of mobile.

'On mobile, each app can only focus on doing one thing well, we think,' Zuckerberg said during a public Q&A session on Facebook earlier this month. 'The primary purpose of the Facebook app is News Feed.'

So Facebook launched its Creative Labs division to create a handful of standalone apps, including the Snapchat-like Slingshot, the news reader Paper and the Messenger messaging app.

The Facebook Groups news comes a week after reports surfaced saying Facebook is working on enterprise solution that helps employees collaborate using the news feed, groups and more.

'Before, the [Facebook Groups functionality] on desktop and mobile was pretty buried,' Facebook product manager Shirley Sun told NBC News in an interview. 'But people were still using it.' More than 700 million Facebookers use groups each month, up from 500 million earlier this year, Sun said.

Sun said that unlike Messenger, for which Facebook stripped all messaging functionality out of the main app, Groups is an 'optional' and 'complementary' experience. So users can ignore the Groups app and still use the group functionality in the main Facebook app.

Sun brushed off concerns that Facebookers may tire of downloading multiple Facebook-related apps.

'I wouldn't want to predict whether there's a limit,' Sun said. 'Everybody is so different and as they go through different life stages, they want different tools to connect.'

First published November 18 2014, 10:00 AM

Julianne Pepitone

Julianne is a senior technology writer for NBC News Digital. Previously she worked at CNNMoney where she was a staff writer covering large tech companies including Apple and Google, as well as the intersection of tech and media. Julianne has written for numerous national magazines and online publications, including Self, Popular Mechanicsand Esquire.com.


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