Facebook Inc. is overhauling its Pages service with features for wireless devices that help users quickly find business information, another sign the company is ramping up efforts in mobile.The revamp, the most extensive in a year, is the first Pages upgrade to begin on mobile instead of the desktop version, said Matt Idema, head of product for Pages.
The updates, which highlight business information such as addresses and hours of operation, will appear first on the applications for Apple Inc.'s iPhone and mobile Web version, followed in May by the app for smartphones running Google Inc.'s Android software.
Facebook, owner of the world's most popular social- networking service, is focusing more on mobile services and advertising as users access its features from smartphones and tablets, putting it more directly in competition with Google and Yelp Inc. Almost half of users visiting Pages do so on a mobile device, Idema said in an interview.
"It is a mobile-first product," he said. "Our user base has rapidly adopted the mobile platform."
Pages lets businesses use Facebook to communicate with customers, showcase products and highlight special offers. Before the upgrade, visitors to the pages may have had to make an extra click or scroll down to get information they needed about the businesses.
The Pages upgrade displays key company facts, such as location and contact information, near the top of the page. A cleaner, more efficient design lets users easily "like" a company's page or call the business.
"We're delivering on what people want when they're getting to the page, beyond just seeing a list of the page's posts," he said. "It really allows people to take actions and connect with those businesses."
The upgrade borrows from a Facebook app called Nearby, which uses a new layout for getting information on local businesses. The app suggests businesses that are close by, based on a user's location.
Facebook, which boosted the speed of the Pages service, will tailor pages to different types of companies, said Jasper Hauser, who heads product design for Pages. For now, a few of the categories include local businesses and retailers, and new ones will be added in the future, Hauser said.
With the upgrades, businesses themselves also get more tools for easily updating pages to highlight new products, special offers and video clips.
--Editors: Stephen West, Ben Livesey
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