Facebook to unveil HTML5 app platform next week (rumor)

Not only is Facebook rumored to finally launch its iPad app at Apple's iPhone 5 event next week, but its HTML5 app platform could also see the light of day, according to a new rumor.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

Project Spartan is rumored to be Facebook's upcoming HTML5 app platform. It may launch as soon as next week, along with the official Facebook iPad app, at Apple's iPhone 5 launch event on October 4, according to TechCrunch.

In fact, Apple reportedly wants Facebook to launch the iPad app at the iPhone 5 event, and Project Spartan as well, to show off some the new HTML5 capabilities in iOS 5. Facebook wants to launch both next week at its own event on Monday, if negotiations don't go well with Apple.

Facebook's official iPad app and its HTML5 app platform have both seen delays. Now it seems one possible reason is that Facebook wants the two to launch together. It's not clear how much Apple is participating, but if rumors about the two working together against Google are true, it could be doing more than just giving Facebook some time on stage.

In related news, there are more leaked screenshots for Project Spartan. One of them is above and the rest are over at TechCrunch.

Project Spartan was expected to be announced in July, but we're in September now, so clearly there was some kind of delay. Some expected it to arrive last week at Facebook's f8 developer conference, but Facebook was apparently worried that the project would overshadow some of the company's other big announcements.

The only tangible part of Project Spartan is BoltJS, a user interface framework designed to help developers build mobile web apps, in HTML5 and JavaScript that run entirely in the browser, with no backend processing required. BoltJS is built on top of Javelin so that it does not duplicate code already present in the Facebook codebase and so that it is familiar for third-party Facebook developers.

The modules are defined using the CommonJS standard, ensuring each module is completely self-contained, with no global variables being created. There's nothing linking the two projects right now, apart from the fact that it looks like BoltJS could be used to develop Project Spartan apps.

The HTML5 apps are supposed to work on iOS, Android, and desktop browsers. Developers have been working for at least a couple of months with Facebook, and the social network put in a lot of time before that. Employed by companies such as Zynga and the Huffington Post, they are building apps for the platform that range from games to news-reading apps.

The broader goal is to get people using Facebook as the distribution model for apps, rather than Apple's App Store or Google's Android Market, so the mobile world is not fully controlled by the two technology giants. That being said, if Facebook chooses to work with Apple, this could look a bit different. Facebook would of course also love for its own payment platform to dominate mobile by allowing developers to sell apps and offer in-app purchases with Facebook Credits.

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