Facebook upgrades mobile platform; brings two-way interactions to phones

Facebook upgrades mobile platform; brings two-way interactions to phones

Summary: Facebook makes some upgrades to its mobile platform, releasing single sign-on and opening its location-based API more. The big news, though, was a Deals platform that brick-and-mortar merchants are sure to like.


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, at a press event at the company's Palo Alto headquarters today, was quick to squash rumors about a Facebook phone.  "What a novel idea," Zuckerberg said. "Facebook's gonna build a phone. Um, no."

But mobile was definitely the theme of the event. The iPhone and Android apps are getting an update, bringing Groups and Places to a larger audience. But the big news was centered around the mobile platform.

The company today made three mobile platform related announcements - single sign-on, the opening of location APIs and the launch of a Deals platform. (Facebook Blog post, Techmeme)

Gallery: Facebook's mobile event

The announcements drive home Facebook's vision as creating a horizontal platform that stretches across all devices, whether Android, iPhone, RIM, Windows Mobile or even the mobile Web.

The single sign-on tool - demonstrated by Groupon and Zynga at the event - allows users to avoid the hassles of creating accounts and logging in to various applications from a mobile device. That's a nice feature but the other announcements felt meatier.

The company also opened the Places API further to offer more - specificailly, the ability to read, write and search data. The demo by Loopt (which crashed repeatedly) was supposed to showcase the integration of Places into other location-based apps. The idea is that people are "checking in" across a number of apps - Loopt, Yelp, Gowalls and others - but aren't necessarily cross-linking that "information" to the other platforms. This closes that gap and allows Facebook users to see where their friends and - and have been - regardless of which service they used to check in.

Finally, the company launched - and explained - its new Deals Platform. This is where local merchants finally get a chance to play in the Places and location-based services by offering discounts to nearby visitors as an incentive to come on in. It's an interesting approach because it allows businesses to finally interact with mobile users who are using phones to find a nearby restaurant, coffee, shop, deli and more. A discount, obviously, becomes an incentive for a customer to enter the business - and that's what businesses want after all. (And don't forget the advertising potential on those apps, too.)

Zuckerberg wrapped up the event with one big takeaway - the idea that both mobile and social are growing at a revolutionary pace. Zuckerberg said:

What we've seen is that you can basically take or rethink any product area to be social so you take all of the interaction  and have it be a lot more engaging, have it grow virally and remake whole industries. Mobile is a big area of expansion and building social apps is as big. When you combine them, it creates big opportunities for new companies to be built and industries to get disrupted.

And just to throw some controversy in this announcement, the company was asked about these features for an iPad. Zuckerberg's quick response of "The iPad is not mobile.Next question." was followed by a around of "oooh"s, to which Zuckerberg repeated that the iPad is not a mobile device. "It's a computer." And then he immediately back-pedaled. He said:

I didn't mean to be rude to Apple but we're focused on what we're doing today. I think iPad is not a mobile platform the way a phone is.

Topics: Mobility, Security, Social Enterprise

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  • The iPad is not a computer

    It is an appliance.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • It's a computer

      @Cylon Centurion 0005 and you know it.
    • RE: Facebook upgrades mobile platform; brings two-way interactions to phones

      @Cylon Centurion 0005 The new movie "The Social Network" showed Mark Zuckerberg used Linux software to create "Facebook" and the Company still uses Linux to this day... I didn't know that and they said their's no money in Open Source software. It's about time companies like Facebook and Google placed "Powered by Linux" at the bottom of their websites out of respect for what Linux and Open Source has allowed them to achieve!
      John Biles
  • How can he say the iPad is not a mobile device

    It is functionally the same as an iPhone just with a larger screen. All that does is make some adjustments to some apps but the iOS is functionally the same and as Cylon said it is not a computer, it is an appliance or an accessory to a computer at best. It may have a processor and memory of some sort but it runs a Mobile OS just like it's iPhone counterpart and just like any future Android/Palm/WinMobile based tablets will do running the Android, Palm, Winmobile or any other Mobile OS basically extended to a tablet just to offer a larger viewing area and maybe a couple unique features.
    • RE: Facebook upgrades mobile platform; brings two-way interactions to phones


      would you put an iPad in your pocket and go rock climbing?

      would you put an iPad in your pocket and and go sailing?

      no, it's a portable device, same as a small laptop, or even a microPC. Running a mobileOS doesn't make it mobile. A mobile (cell) phone is something mobile, pocketable, doesn't need a bag or special pack to carry it in. Mobile devices are true to this form factor, whatever OS they run. I'm pretty sure I can flash some Linux and *nix flavours on my HTC phone, but that doesn't make it a server...
      • RE: Facebook upgrades mobile platform; brings two-way interactions to phones

        Personally, I feel that my iPad IS a mobile device, and since it also has 3G I do take it with me quite frequently since much nicer to view on a larger screen. Sure, it is not a phone nor can you put it in your pocket, but it fits in my handbag quite well and a welcome companion on the passenger seat of my car (where my iPhone is as well)! And since so light, carrying it under your arm is also not a problem..
    • RE: Facebook upgrades mobile platform; brings two-way interactions to phones


      In a way you are right. iPad is not a mobile device the way a phone is, Zuckerberg's point. But an ipad is not as powerful as a computer and has less of everything (ram, expansion ports, hdd space). So really a tablet formfactor PC is as portable as an ipad, but more powerful. Thanks for supporting the argument that ipad is a pointless device - not powerful enough to be classed as a portable computer, not small enough to be classed as a mobile device. ;-)
  • Who cares?

    nuf said.
  • RE: Facebook upgrades mobile platform; brings two-way interactions to phones

    Find streams of people's checkins on Twitter annoying and useless to me.
  • How about WebOS

    On my Palm Pre I use the latest FB beta application. It is great for reading, viewing photos and even leaving comments. But still no way to "share" posts. And that is what I enjoy most.
  • It's "Windows Phone 7", not "Windows Mobile".

    Don't you even know that much...?
  • Mobile device UI

    Wow the windows phone 7 user interface is really a standout. It's nice to see MS innovate a new mobile experience.
    • RE: Facebook upgrades mobile platform; brings two-way interactions to phones

      @C#2010 I wouldn't say innovative as much as different...
  • good idea about facebook

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