Facebook’s primary experimental apps from its ‘NPE Team’ division centers on students, chat & music

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This July, Facebook introduced a new division called NPE Team, which will create experimental consumer-facing apps, enabling the company to work out new ideas and features to see how people would respond. 

It shortly after that hit former Vine GM Jason Toff to accompany the team as a product manager. 

The Original Apps 

The original apps to develop from the NPE Team have now silently launched. 

One, Bump, is a chat app that intends to assist people in making new friends through communications, not appearances. 

Another, Aux, is a friendly music hearing app.

Aux seems a bit nostalgic of an earlier startup, Turntable.fm, that shut its doors in 2013. 

As in Turntable.fm, the design with Aux is that of a virtual DJ’ing encounter where people, instead of algorithms, are programming the music. 

This idea of crowdsourced DJ’ing also passed on in years preceding with radio stations that had put their audiences in charge of the playlist by their mobile app.

Later, streaming music apps like Spotify tested with party playlists, and several startups started their guest-controlled playlists.

The NPE Team’s Aux app is a somewhat unusual take on this general idea of people-powered playlists.

The app is directed at school-aged kids and teens who enter a party in the app every day at 9 PM. 

They then select the songs they desire to play and compete for the “AUX” to get theirs played first. 

By the end of the night, a winner is picked based on how many “claps” are obtained.

Another new NPE Team app is Bump, which intends to support people “make new friends.”

An anonymous chat app, the concept here is that Bump can assist people in joining by providing them icebreakers to reply to using text. 

There are no pictures, videos, or links in Bump; it merely is chats.

Based on the App Store screenshots, the app appears to be designed for college students. 

The screenshots display questions about “the coolest place” on campus and where to get cheap food. 

An example chat shown in the screenshots shows things like classes and companion troubles. 

Facebook’s Involvement 

Facebook has not spoken much about its intentions for the NPE Team beyond the point that they will concentrate on different ways of building community and maybe shut down soon if they are not useful.

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