Is Facebook Preparing To Launch 'Facebook Labs' For Experimental Features?

A few minutes ago we published a post about Facebook’s new Desktop Notifications app for Mac — a very slick desktop client that lets you monitor your Facebook notifications from your Mac desktop. We’ve been poking around the app’s page a bit more, and we may have stumbled upon something even more exciting: a directory of Prototype Facebook apps. You’ll notice that the page includes an option to “Browse More Prototypes”, which currently leads to a blank page.

At this point there are two possibilities: Facebook either has an internal directory of Facebook applications that are tested by employees and a bug let us access Desktop Notifications, or it’s preparing to give everyone the chance to try out these new experimental apps, while clearly specifying that they are an “experimental feature built by a Facebook engineer” so that it doesn’t have to worry about offering support for them. Given that the Desktop Notifications app has been public for a while now and Facebook hasn’t pulled it, I’m guessing the latter.

This would be similar to a model that Google has adopted with Gmail Labs, which it launched last summer and has led to a number of useful features. And it’s a model that would be perfect for Facebook, which is well known for running marathon ‘hackathon’ sessions during which its engineers cook up new features over the course of a few all-nighters.