Facebook has quietly axed its Creative Labs division, the start-up like initiative that encouraged employees to experiment with ideas in creating standalone mobile apps. As a result of the shuttering, Creative Labs web page has been shut down and the division’s apps – including Slingshot, Riff and Rooms – have been discontinued or are in the process of being pulled.
A Facebook spokeswoman confirmed that the apps had been removed, adding that they hadn’t been updated for some time. "Since their launches, we've incorporated elements of Slingshot, Riff and Rooms into the Facebook for iOS and Android apps," the Spokeswoman told CNET. "We haven't updated these apps in some time and we've decided to officially end support by removing them from the App Store and Google Play."
Few of the apps that came from Creative Labs proved to be very popular, especially when compared to other apps from Facebook such as Instagram and WhatsApp. There was Slingshot, an ephemeral messaging app much in the same style as Snapchat; Riff, which let users collaborate with friends on videos and share them in the app and on Facebook; and Rooms, a group messaging service that was like a modern version of the chat rooms and message boards from the early days of the web.
Probably the most popular product to come from Creative Labs is its first offering – Paper. The Flipboard-like, standalone newsreader app combined both human and algorithm based curation with elements of the Facebook newsfeed. While Paper is the last piece of Creative Labs software still in the App Store, it may not be there long as it hasn’t been updated since March.
Facebook has said that no employees were laid off as part of Creative Lab’s closure, and that the company continues to encourage its developers to experiment.
Anyone who has already downloaded Slingshot and Riff will still be able to use them after they are pulled. Rooms will be shut down on December 23; you won’t be able to post anything on the app after this date but can still delete any content you’ve previously posted.