Facebook is a pretty polished-looking site, and it wants to stay that way. Unlike MySpace—where you can customize just about everything on your personal page—you can’t go hog wild changing the way Facebook looks. You can only adjust the layout of your Home page and profile ever so slightly. But you can do something much cooler than, say, changing the background color of your profile page: Facebook lets you add applications (a.k.a. apps)—tiny programs that run inside Facebook.
Second only to the friend-to-friend interactions Facebook tracks for you, applications are one of the main reasons for the site’s explosive popularity. Why? They’re fun! And they can be useful, too. Applications let you do everything from silly stuff (like playing games, “spray painting” on your friends’ Walls, or sending your friends virtual potted plants that grow a little each day) to useful things (like creating a terrific-looking resumé right on Facebook). If you can imagine it, somebody’s probably created an application that lets you do it.
Facebook granted programmers free access to the Facebook platform (the code they need to write things for the site) in May of 2007, meaning that anybody with the programming chops and the desire could create an application. Since then, the number of applications has skyrocketed to over half a million, according to Facebook. Read on to learn how to find and install applications.