CBSN

​Preview of the new Facebook Groups app

Facebook released a new app Tuesday that separates Groups from the daily clutter of the social network. Here are the basics.

Why: Facebook saw significant growth in the use of Groups, in which users organize themselves into groups around a particular topic -- knitting, say, a book club, or a college course. There are currently 700 million active monthly members, up from 500 million in January, and the majority are mainly on mobile. But Groups, the company said, are fairly buried on the site, so product managers decided to develop a standalone app that would put them front and center.

What it does: The app opens on a screen that shows all the groups to which the user belongs. It organizes notifications into one tab, settings in another, and also recommends new groups to join based on the memberships of your friends, where you live and pages you've liked in the past.

What it doesn't do: The app does not replace Groups on regular Facebook app. Users around the world are still fuming about Facebook's move this summer to split off Messenger from the main app and into its own app. The company has made it clear that this is not the plan for Groups.

"This will remain a complementary, optional experience. Given Groups is deeply integrated with News Feed and is central to people's experience on Facebook, it wouldn't make sense to split the two," a spokesperson told CBS News.

What it doesn't do yet -- but probably will soon: Right now, there are three privacy settings for groups. You can make them public, closed (which means they require permission to join), or secret (totally hidden to anyone who isn't a member). At the moment, the Discover tab will suggest any groups that aren't secret, which isn't ideal for groups that are saturated with members, or simply don't want to be discovered. The company said it may add privacy setting to allow admins to keep their groups out of the recommendations.

Facebook also plans to add some smart features to the Create Group function that will personalize templates based on profile information. For example, it could offer a "family" group template that would automatically suggest members of your actual family.

The Groups app rolls out worldwide to Android and iOS devices Tuesday.