Facebook mobilizes its developer base
Unveils iPad app and promises Platform support for Android, but its main agenda lies with HTML5
Published: 11 October, 2011
Facebook has finally unveiled its long awaited native app for the iPad, just as its huge push behind HTML5 may help threaten Apple's app store model. The social giant has also ported its Facebook Platform to mobile systems, initially iOS and its own mobile website.
While there are specific mobile versions of the Facebook app for most operating systems, the Platform extends its reach by allowing third party developers to take their offerings beyond the PC and browser. They can now harness social channels to improve app discovery through tools like recommendations, and use the Facebook Credits payments system. Android and other OSs will follow.
Facebook said it aimed to bring all the social channels which drive apps and games to web users to mobile apps and websites. Although the features are still under development, the firm has detailed five Social Channels on Mobile already. These are Bookmarks; Requests (allowing users to invite friends to an app); News Feed, which can be used to share highlights from apps and interact with those snippets; Authenticated Referrals, a new feature to help developers build a personalized experience once users arrive at their app; and Facebook Credits for micropayments, now extended to mobile web apps.
Facebook is concentrating many of its efforts to "become a mobile company" on HTML5, to enable cross-device web apps, and eventually such an approach will start to break down the walls around the native app stores. However, the social player knows the transition will not happen overnight, and insisted it will extend its native support to "more mobile platforms such as Android in the near future".
Meanwhile, temptations of the new iPad app include the ability to play games and use apps in full-screen mode, watch high resolution videos inline, record HD video, and stream content to Airplay devices.