Live-blogging Facebook’s Key Mobile Releases
We’re here at Facebook headquarters covering the company’s launch of several new mobile products. We’re expecting to see some key announcements around Places — potentially a local deals services –and other new application programming interfaces for developers.
Mark Zuckerberg takes the stage. He’s talking about the company’s mission in making its mobile platform more social. The company now has more than 200 million people using Facebook mobile products.
That’s up from 150 million announced over the summer and triple the size from last year, when the company had 65 million mobile users. That means nearly 40 percent of the company’s active users are accessing it through mobile devices.
He’s announced a new iPhone app that will have a number of updates. There will be a new Groups feature and the tagging feature in Places will be improved.
The company is also updating the Android app. He says originally the company was going to outsource its development of the Android app, but Google bought the company.
“We think we have general parity between the Android and iPhone app,” he said. Places and Groups are coming to Android.
Zuckerberg addresses rumors that Facebook is going to build a phone. He says, “No.” He says the company’s goal is to make it possible for all apps to be social regardless of the device or OS. He stresses that the company strategy is a “horizontal approach” that is agnostic between platforms.
He switched subjects to developers, launching a series of new application programming interfaces. There will be single sign-on for Facebook-connect mobile applications so that users don’t have to re-enter their usernames and passwords.
The company also opened up the write version of the Places application programming interface to all developers. Before it was in a closed beta and only select developers could use the API to let users check-in to Places from other applications.
Facebook’s product manager for mobile takes the stage and talks about how the company needs to make its experiences on mobile devices more efficient. He says in an age when searches are measured by the millisecond, Facebook has to apply the same rigorous goals to its own services.
He goes over single sign-on, which will let users to access Facebook-enabled, social features in mobile applications without entering their username or password.
“With single sign-on, we enable really social experiences,” Tseng said. “With single sign-on, we can encourage users to sign-on and use applications more, making them happier.”
He introduces Mihir Shah, the vice president of Groupon, who demonstrates an integration with the Chicago-based company’s app.
In another demonstration, he invites Justin Cinicolo, the general manager of mobile for Zynga. He brings up the Zynga LivePoker application. At any given time, 90,000 players are going all in on the game. Users can log-in to Facebook with a single tap.
Tseng takes the stage back. Facebook’s other partners with single sign-on were Yelp, Scvngr, Flixster, Booyah and Loopt. The company is launching updates to its Android and iPhone software development kits.
Tseng hands the stage to engineering manager Dave Fetterman. He announces that Facebook’s full set of location APIs — read, write and search — are now fully open to the public. Facebook gives a demo of the Yelp app, which will let you check-in from Yelp on the social network.
He brings Sam Altman, the founder of Loopt, on-stage. Loopt built a way for its users to see where their Facebook friends were and conversely, a way for them to publish their check-ins to Facebook from Loopt.
Fetterman takes back the stage and does an overview of the three APIs. With the write API, users can add photos, captions, names and message links.
The search API, which lets application pull up nearby places, is socially-enabled. Unlike Places APIs from other companies, which show locations by proximity, Facebook’s search API will pull up Places by their “social proximity” to people, or how often a user or their friends go to these places.
> See our separate, more detailed coverage of the mobile platform launch for the Q&A — most of the questions were about the platform.