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Facebook experiments with app to document your hobbies

Hobbi lets you create highlight videos from photos of your personal projects.

Facebook has released four experimental apps created by a special team at the company. 
Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook is experimenting with an app called Hobbi that lets users organize and save photos of their personal projects such as baking or ceramics, a sign that the company is testing features and services outside of social networking. From these photos, users can also create videos of their projects to share with family and friends. 


The latest app from Facebook's New Product Experimentation Team is called Hobbi. 

Screenshot by Queenie Wong/CNET

The app, available for iPhone users in some countries, was created by a team within Facebook tasked with experimenting with new products and services. The company said it was forming what it calls the New Product Experimentation Team in July. The team could quickly alter apps or even shut them down if they fail to live up to expectations.

More than seven months later, that team has launched four apps but none of them have attracted a large number of users, according to data from app analytics company Sensor Tower. Three of the apps, though, were only available in Canada, limiting their adoption. Hobbi is currently available in 84 countries, including the US, Australia and Canada, according to Sensor Tower. It was released on Wednesday.

Data from Sensor Tower shows that apps released from Facebook's NPE Team haven't attracted a lot of users. 

Screenshot by Queenie Wong/CNET

The Information, which previously reported on the release of the Hobbi app on Thursday, compared it to social bookmarking site Pinterest. There are some differences, though, between the two services. Pinterest lets you post or "pin" images including those you find on the web to a virtual board, which can be helpful when you're planning a wedding or a personal project. You can also search for new images on the site. Hobbi users create a new project and then add photos by taking them through the app or adding the images from their camera roll. That allows them to see the progress they've made on a project. Hobbi users can then create a highlight video from these images and share them on other platforms. To sign up for a Hobbi account, users are asked to enter their phone number.  

Facebook declined to comment about what the NPE team has learned so far from their experimentation. Some of the apps the team has launched have already been shuttered but appeared to appeal to teens. Facebook's NPE Team has released a live school radio app called AUX, a social networking app called Bump that lets you chat anonymously with college classmates, and a meme creator called Whale.

This isn't the first time Facebook has tried to get their employees to experiment more. The company ran a startup-like initiative called Creative Labs but the social network shuttered that informal effort in 2015 after two years. The NPE Team is a more formal effort from Facebook, but it's unclear how well it's been working.