Today Facebook announced today that the 200+ million (3x more since this time last year at 65 million) users on mobile platforms will have updated features for groups, tagging, and places on their apps through a universal mobile platform.
Mark Zuckerberg confirmed today that the Facebook phone is NOT coming. The approach Facebook will take is to create a mobile platform for development across all mobile devices. The goal is to create an ecosystem that apps can be built with a social circle available at all times. This will take advantage of single sign on and location based API’s available to developers to use on Facebook’s platform.
Let’s break this down. First off the single sign on (SSO) API is going to allow you to sign in once to Facebook and use those credentials to login to all of your other services (in time). From the way it was described, only three-four few lines of code are needed to include the Facebook SSO into the mobile app (on any platform) being developed. This opens things like social gaming up to a whole new level. Imagine being able to play a game of poker with your friends from anywhere in the world. Companies such as Groupon, Zynga, Yelp, and Flixser have already created apps with the new SSO API.
Next is the announcement about the expanded location based platform. Prior to today, apps only had read-only access to the location data from Facebook Places. Now there is full social, location based integration that is going to be available for all of your friends. The big players like Foursquare, Yelp, and Gowalla have also already jumped onto this platform.
Up until today the major problem with location based services has been the lack of integration. This API that Facebook is offering is going to take this technology to the next level and build a massive database of useful, powerful information (also available via a search API). Soon to come will be the location based deals in the area for better shopping experiences. There is also logic built in to tailor the results to your interests which are gathered over time in your Facebook account.
The second major issue is that the vendors or places you are checking into, had such a lack of reporting and detail about who is visiting their store. With the Deals API that Facebook has created, it allows venues to offer deals (very very easily) that will feed into the search API that people may be looking for. From there a user can check in and claim the deal all from the mobile device. This is going to create a new reason for local businesses to be online and create loyalty or frequent buyer programs. Companies like Gap (giving 10k pairs of blue jeans away to first users who check in), Alamo (giving away Pint glasses for people who check in), The North Face (giving one dollar to charity for checkins at a National Park or North Face Store) and The Palms (3rd night free after a 2 night check in).
The possibilities from this new API are simply amazing. This trumps any of the rumors that were out there earlier today. Enjoy!
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