Facebook Platform goes mobile, starting with Apple iOS

Facebook has ported the Facebook Platform to the mobile world. For now, the company is supporting Apple iOS and its own mobile website.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

In addition to an official iPad app, Facebook today announced it has extended the Facebook Platform to mobile. The move allows developers take advantage of social channels for app discovery as well as the Facebook Credits payment system.

So far, Facebook is letting developers target two main mobile platforms. The company is supporting Apple iOS (via its official app that as of today works on the iPad in addition to the iPhone and iPod touch) and the mobile version of its website. The company has said that other platforms are on its to-do list, and even specifically mentioned Google's Android.

Facebook says its goal is to bring all the social channels that have helped apps and games reach hundreds of millions of users on the Web to mobile apps and mobile websites. The features it has launched today are still under development and are expected to evolve in the coming months.

Facebook has announced five Social channels on Mobile to drive the discovery and distribution of apps using the Facebook Platform. Until now, most of these social channels were only available to websites and apps on a desktop browser pointed to facebook.com. Here are the five new features:

  • Bookmarks: Bookmarks are one of the key re-engagement channels for Facebook apps. When a user engages with your app, a bookmark to your app is automatically added to a user's main navigation on Facebook. Now, people who use the aforementioned mobile platforms will get bookmarks to the mobile versions of these apps. If a user taps your app bookmark in Facebook's iOS apps, it will launch directly (if your native iOS app is installed, otherwise the user will be redirected to the iTunes app store). On Facebook's mobile website, bookmarks will link to mobile web version of your app.
  • Requests: With the new Requests dialog for mobile, users can invite their friends to your app. Friends can receive requests anywhere that your app is supported. For example, if a user makes a move in a game on Facebook.com, their friend can respond from her iPhone. As with bookmarks, users will tap the notification and land directly on the mobile version of your app, whether it is a native iOS app or a mobile website.
  • News Feed: Users can already use the Feed dialog to share highlights from apps, but until now they have not been able to interact with those stories on their mobile devices. Now, people can see an interesting story on their mobile News Feed, tap the link, and land directly on the mobile version of your app, whether it is a native iOS app or a mobile website.
  • Authenticated Referrals: Authenticated referrals is a new feature that ensures all referral traffic from Facebook to your app has users connected to the social network. When users search and find a new app, or taps on a News Feed story or a Request from a mobile app they haven't previously used, they will be prompted to log in before going to the app. This feature grants you the opportunity to build a personalized experience as soon as users arrive at your app.
  • Facebook Credits: Facebook Credits now supports mobile web apps. The same policies are also extended to mobile web apps, requiring all games to use Facebook Credits as their exclusive payment mechanism. This means a consistent experience for users buying virtual goods in games, and it also makes sure Facebook gets its 30 percent cut. There is an exception though: native iOS apps and mobile web apps that are running within a Facebook iOS app don't have to use Facebook Credits.

Facebook recently made two big mobile pronouncements. The social networking giant confirmed it had 350 million mobile active users. Erick Tseng, head of mobile products at Facebook, declared "We're going to become a mobile company." Somehow I don't think these two tidbits were revealed coincidentally just last month.

For months now, Facebook was expected to release its official iPad app along with its mobile apps platform. Most recently, a rumor suggested the two would launch last week at Apple's iPhone 5 event. Sadly, Steve Jobs passed away last week and this is the speculated reason for the two being pushed back, yet again. Anyway, now they're finally out and we can look forward to the improvements.

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