Product Designer Lee Byron says on the Facebook blog:
Facebook Prototypes let us share the experimentation going on inside the walls of Facebook with the rest of the world. You'll be able to test any of the products and features we launch as Facebook Prototypes and then provide feedback directly to those of us who built them. To access Prototypes, visit the Application Directory and filter by "Prototypes." From there, you can activate or download any of the Prototypes listed.
Byron notes that these prototypes are “unfinished versions of products we’re testing that may have some kinks to work out.” Additionally, successful prototypes may eventually be added to Facebook as full-fledged features.
Seriously, though, whether or not Facebook is a copycat, this is pretty cool. Some of the first prototypes include a desktop notifier/status client (for Mac), a filter to sort your news feed by most recent comments, a search for photos by people tagged in them, and additions to event emails to let you add the event to Google Calendar, Outlook and other calendars.
At present, it appears that only Facebook programmers will be creating prototypes. I understand the reasoning there, but it’d be cool to see this opened up to Facebook developers, too (with a reasonable app testing/vetting process before adding to Prototypes).
What do you think? Will you be adding any new prototypes—or what features would you want from a prototype? Would you like to see Prototypes open to developers, and if so, how would you recommend that working?