Apple integrates Facebook into iOS 5.1?

Mentions of the Apple iPad 3 and Facebook have been discovered iOS 5.1 beta 3. We already know the iPad 3 is coming, but do these findings also mean Facebook will soon be in iOS 5 or iOS 6?

After integrating Twitter into iOS 5, Apple seems to be doing the same thing with Facebook. Both iPad 3 and Facebook references have been discovered iOS 5.1 beta 3. The latest iOS 5 developer beta also features a field for a Facebook user name in the contacts app, as you can see in the screenshot above (courtesy of iMore), but this already exists in iOS 5.0.1. The mentions of Facebook in the code don't necessarily mean it will be integrated in iOS 5 or iOS 6 this year, but the likelihood has certainly just jumped a few notches.

The best Facebook integration I've seen to date in a mobile OS is undoubtedly the one in Windows Phone. Facebook develops the native app for Apple's iOS, but not for Windows Phone. More importantly, Microsoft built Windows Phone after Apple developed iOS, so Redmond had the opportunity to include Facebook from the ground-up. Cupertino may be looking for a way to take the Facebook integration crown away from Microsoft, further destroying the software giant's chances of offering unique functions with its mobile space offering.

Facebook was supposed to be integrated into iOS 4. Cupertino wanted to code its own Facebook features because it lacked confidence in Menlo Park's ability to build a great app, so it built the social network into its mobile operating system. Facebook said no and negotiations broke down. Apple then went with Twitter in iOS 5.

Have the two now managed to reach an agreement or is this just left over legacy code? It sure looks like the former, although with Apple and Facebook, you just never know.

The iOS-Facebook saga is one of three recent episodes which demonstrated a strained Apple-Facebook relationship (the other two are related to Ping and the HP TouchPad). The partnership between the two technology giants started to turn around last year, however, possibly because the duo shares a mutual enemy: Google.

As you can see in the links below, Facebook gave Apple quite a boost in 2011. Maybe 2012 is Apple's turn to return the favor; after all, Twitter has certainly benefitted from being featured front and center in iOS.

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