Facebook App User IDs are a new feature available to iOS developers who can use them to target their users by actions they took within their app. This is already available in the Facebook SDK for iOS, but will come to the Android SDK soon.
App User IDs are a component of Custom Audiences. Previously, advertisers could create targeting groups by hashed email addresses, phone numbers or user IDs. Now, developers have a way to target ads to their app users who haven’t logged in with Facebook or registered with an email address or phone number.
For example, a shopping app can target people who made a purchase and then show them ads with other items they may be interested in. A game developer can target engaged users of one of their games with ads for another game that they make.
Facebook today shared a recap and several videos from its event at the Game Developers Conference last month. The key takeaways from the presentations were Facebook’s commitment to the desktop gaming platform, its emerging focus on core and mid-core games, and its support for cross-platform games.
These are the three main areas to look at over the course of the year to understand the company’s progress as a gaming platform — something many are beginning to doubt or write off completely.
Facebook says desktop gaming is “healthy and growing,” despite the attention on mobile, tablets and other new platforms. The company pointed to research suggesting the desktop games business is expected to grow to $15 billion, not including China. Last year desktop games generated more than $2.8 billion, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the overall industry.
“We care about desktop because it’s big, and it’s growing and we can make it grow faster,” Director of Games Partnerships Sean Ryan said at the GDC event last month. “It’s a big business in total around the world and for Facebook.”
The social network says more than 250 million people play games on Facebook each month, which is a 15 percent increase over last year. Many think Facebook games are past their heyday, but Facebook says there are now more users playing games on the site than ever before.
Facebook today announced an agreement to acquire Parse, a cloud-based platform providing tools for mobile app developers.
Parse offers backend services, data storage, social integration tools and other features to make it easier for developers to build apps across different platforms that scale more efficiently.
Facebook is buying Parse outright, meaning this is more than the typical talent deals Facebook makes. Parse will continue to operate and offer its services. Currently, it has a free model, a $199 model and an enterprise level. The company says there are 60,000 apps integrated with Parse’s platform.
Facebook Director of Developer Products Doug Purdy wrote in a developer blog post today:
“We want to enable developers to rapidly build apps that span mobile platforms and devices. Parse makes this possible by allowing developers to work with native objects that provide backend services for data storage, notifications, user management, and more. This removes the need to manage servers and a complex infrastructure, so you can simply focus on building great user experiences.”
Facebook today announced a number of changes meant to improve the experience and increase the possibilities for mobile developers building apps that integrate with the social network. This includes new Open Graph APIs, a standard mobile share dialog, faster login and a Technology Partners program to help developers find third-party solutions that suit their needs.
One of the most significant developments announced today is the Object API, which allows mobile developers to create Open Graph objects without having to host corresponding webpages. Previously, applications had to serve data into Open Graph through web endpoints, so native iOS and Android apps weren’t able to build the same types of experiences or gain the same opportunities for distribution and discovery as web-basedd apps, unless they have the resources to build a web backend. Now this won’t be necessary and mobile or web apps can use the Object API for easier object creation.
Facebook is also introducing an object privacy model to allow objects that have custom or non-public privacy settings. This is especially important for some of the user generated content that comes from mobile apps. Web-hosted objects, on the other hand, have always had to be public. To help developers manage all their objects now, Facebook created a new “object browser” interface — seen below — that aims to organize developers’ objects in a more visual and intuitive way.
Facebook today announced a deal with Rovi Corporation to use Rovi Video, a database of information about movies, TV shows and celebrities that can be used to improve search and discovery across its platform.
Rovi’s data helps power experiences like on-screen TV guides, iTunes, Flixter, BestBuy.com and many others. Facebook has been building out its “entity graph,” which are all the people, places and things that are represented with pages. Users primarily connect to these objects by Liking them, but now Facebook is making a push for users to do so through actions like “watch/want to watch,” “read/want to read” or “listen/want to listen.” Improving the metadata associated with these objects could give Facebook new opportunities when it comes to search, News Feed relevance, recommendations and offering new features for developers
Before the Rovi deal, Facebook used Wikipedia and Freebase to populate information about movies, TV shows and other entities, for example for the module on the “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” page below. However, those sources are community-curated and not necessarily as reliable as what Rovi provides for many of the largest companies in the world.
Facebook’s hold on the social login market could be decreasing as more consumers sign into third-party sites with Google, Twitter and other accounts, according to a study by Janrain.
Janrain offers a social login widget that websites can use to give users options for signing in with Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo or more than two dozen other services. Each quarter, the company looks at what consumers are choosing to use on the sites that use its social login product. For the second quarter in a row, Facebook’s lead decreased and Google gained. This does not necessarily mean that fewer users are logging into sites with Facebook, but the overall percentage of users doing so has declined.
Facebook claims a 46 percent share of overall logins through Janrain, and Google has 34 percent. Among the gaming and retail verticals, however, Facebook’s share is higher — close to 60 percent — and has even increased over the last quarter. For media and music sites, Facebook claims around 50 percent of logins, but Twitter and Google are becoming more popular.
Facebook today announced some changes to make it easier for developers to add Open Graph actions to their apps, including making it possible for apps to publish common actions without any configuration.
Facebook made it so that actions such as read, watch, listen and run — known as “common” or “built-in” actions — can be implemented directly using code it provides. Developers no longer have to configure these actions in the platform’s Open Graph tools. Developers can simply choose the action they want to include and the SDK their app uses, and Facebook will generate the appropriate code in the API reference section of its developer site. However, all app actions, including common ones, will need to be reviewed and approved by Facebook before going live.
Facebook addresses privacy questions about Home – Facebook today shared its answers to common privacy questions users might have about Home, the social network’s latest development for Android. Home is optional software that makes Facebook features more integrated into a user’s device. The company says it does not have any of a user’s privacy settings and that all data collected by the service is covered by Facebook’s existing Data Use Policy. Home collects information about how people use the service, such as whether they Like a photo, send a message or launch an app. That information is stored for 90 days in order for Facebook to understand how people are responding to the app and how it could be improved. Facebook says Home does not treat location information any differently than the existing Facebook app. Users can also turn off location services completely. More about Home and privacy is available here.
Facebook stock up after Home announcement – Facebook shares closed at $27.39 this week, up 7 percent since Monday. The stock hasn’t been above $27 per share since March 14. Shares fell beneath $26 earlier in the week as rumors swirled about whether Facebook was launching its own phone or developing a modified version of Android. Wall Street seemed pleased with the company’s decision to release software that could run on a number of devices to make them more social, while also partnering with HTC, AT&T and others to ensure that Home comes preloaded on some new phones.
Facebook, Gates Foundation to sponsor hackathon - Facebook and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are partnering to organize HackEd, two hackathon events this month to address problems in education. Developers will build Facebook-integrated tools for “social learning,” “out-of-school study” and “college-going.” One event will be at Facebook HQ in California April 9. The other will be its London offices April 24. Winners could take home up to $5,000. This is the second year Facebook and the Gates Foundation have put on this event. Last year it was in California only.
Facebook open sources benchmarking tool – Facebook this week released LinkBench, an open source tool for benchmarking graph databases. LinkBench allows developers to replicate the data model, graph structure and request mix of Facebook’s own MySQL workload, while being customizable and extensible for their specific needs. Tim Armstrong, computer science PhD candidate who led the project during an internship at Facebook, said, “We also believe that the broader community working on databases and social applications can benefit from a realistic benchmark for storage and retrieval of social network and other graph-structured data. These applications place many unique demands on database infrastructure due to rapid growth, large volumes of data, and rich data models, yet there are few benchmarks that test performance for these workloads.” LinkBench is available on GitHub.
Facebook today provided updates regarding its transition from Credits to local currency pricing. The company offered new documentation for game developers and announced that migration will occur in Q3 this year.
Facebook decided to phase out Credits in favor of a user’s local currency — dollars, pounds or yen, for example — in June 2012. This allows the social network simplify the purchase experience and give developers more flexibility. Developers will be able to set more granular and consistent prices for non-U.S. users and price the same item differently on a market-by-market basis, as opposed to pricing their virtual goods in $0.10 USD increments as was required when Credits became mandatory in July 2011. This also eliminates any confusion that resulted from users trying to think about conversion rates for dollars, Credits and in-game currency.
Facebook will no longer display mobile bookmarks for apps unless they are games that function on both mobile devices and the desktop canvas, according to a post on the company’s developer blog.
Bookmarks were likely not driving much traffic to most mobile apps so it wasn’t necessary to keep them around. However, Facebook wants to promote cross-platform game development so it will give them the benefit of mobile bookmarks. With fewer apps being included in the bookmarks menu, the few cross-platform games that do appear there could see more traffic than they were before.
The change goes into effect June 5.