Facebook connects with iPhone – in a big way

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Chicago (IL) – Say goodbye to boring iPhone applications that don’t interact directly with
Facebook. Thanks to the newly announced Facebook
Connect for iPhone
platform, iPhone developers can now create games, social
networking applications and other utilities that can post to your Facebook feed, utilize your friend list and interact with your Facebook
account in new ways.

Let’s not fool ourselves: The iPhone + Facebook
combination should strike chords with a lot of users. Updates to popular
iPhone applications are already popping out in the App Store,
delivering a new level of Facebook interaction — and many more are
arriving daily. Games look like the biggest beneficiary of the Facebook
Connect
platform, as proved by the just-released Agency Wars game that taps
iPhone’s GPS sensor to locate your nearby Facebook friends in real-world locations, allowing you to recruit or assassinate them (in the game, of course).

This past Saturday, Facebook made a key announcement at the SXSW
Interactive
conference in Austin, Texas that will see the biggest
social network in the world tightly integrated with the hottest
cellphone on the market today. As part of Facebook’s senior platform
manager Dave Morin’s presentation, the new Facebook Connect for iPhone
service will allow developers to build iPhone applications that share
data with user’s Facebook profiles. Morin was convinced that the new
service will do for iPhone applications what Facebook Connect did for
web sites.

He said, “For the first time, your iPhone apps can now have friends. I
can pull out my iPhone and play it not only my other friends with
iPhones, but I can also play with my mom — she can join in and play
with us on her computer.”
Judging by the response from the iPhone development community, Facebook Connect will be an instant hit. Playfish, Tapulous and SGN
representatives all demoed upcoming versions of their respective iPhone
games which utilize Facebook Connect to take the experience to another level.

Facebook-enabled games hit the iPhone — BAM!

Demonstrated in-game features include sharing game scores in
your Facebook feed, seeing which of your Facebook friends are online,
inviting both iPhone- and non-iPhone-using Facebook friends to play
online with you — and all that from within a game. For instance, Live Poker now
enables iPhone gamers to play virtual poker with their real Facebook
friends. Facebook developer Playfish, a company with five of the ten
most popular social games on Facebook right now with more than 60 million
registered players, has just released Who Has The Biggest Brain? as their
first-ever iPhone game utilizing Facebook Connect to enable iPhone
and Facebook users to play an addictive brain training game
simultaneously.

Agency Wars:  Assassinate your real-life Facebook friends (in the game, of course)

SGN’s Agency Wars, which hit the App Store this
past Saturday, takes the experience to a totally separate level. It has to be the killer Facebook-enabled iPhone game right
now. [Nyuck, nyuck. -Editor] Described as the best massively multiplayer online game for iPhone, the title lets the player serve the world’s intelligence agencies, like the CIA,
FBI, KGB, MI6 and others. The game utilizes iPhone’s geolocation features to let the player leave clues and set traps in specific real-world
locations. Or, you can even assassinate players next to you in your
real-world locations using your iPhone’s GPS geometry. Wicked.

A number of
other well-known publishers also announced Facebook-enabled games for
the iPhone, including EA Sports and MTV. But it’s not just games,
ordinary applications will benefit from the ability to integrate with
each user’s Facebook account as well.


AGENCY WARS:  ASSASSINATE YOUR FACEBOOK FRIENDS
This
new spy game is set in a real world, one made possible by iPhone’s GPS sensor and Facebook
Connect services to locate nearby friends in real-life locations. Once located you can either recruit or assassinate them (but only in the game, don’t try this at home).

iPhone apps get a Facial

Urbanspoon, a restaurant guide with social networking elements,
utilizes Facebook Connect to let users post restaurant pictures and
reviews on their Facebook feeds. Likewise, Flixster does a similar thing for movies. The popular Loopt and Citysearch
are great examples of location-based social networking and localized
guides respectively that will gain new functionality when enhanced with
Facebook Connect support.

Limbo, one of nation’s largest mobile social
networks, said its iPhone application now links user’s respective Limbo
and Facebook accounts, enabling automatic status and activity updates
to be shared between both accounts. In fact, we expect just about
every iPhone developer to jump on the Facebook Connect bandwagon,
resulting in an influx of application updates on the App Store that
deliver Facebook integration as their key improvement. [Editor’s note: I don’t see the benefit. It’s like the idea proposed a few years ago of a future where people buy soda from a vending machine with their cell phones. Here we have a website like Facebook that is supposed to be the single-source stop for a coordinated effort between social networking sites? Where’s the beef? -Editor]


URBANSPOON TALKS TO FACEBOOK
Urbanspoon is a popular location- and social networking-based restaurant guide that appeared in an Apple iPhone ad (QuickTime movie).
Enabled with Facebook Connect, the application now lets you login with
your Facebook account and have your votes, reviews and photos appear in
your Facebook feeds.


LOOPT RUMORED TO TALK TO FACEBOOK, TOO?
Mobile-based social network, dubbed Loopt, also appeared in the iPhone ad (QuickTime movie). Its future update allegedly comes with Facebook Connect support that will take the functionality to an entirely new level.


Read on the next page:
 Facebook + iPhone, Facebook + iPhone OS 3.0, Facebook in iLife ’09, Conclusion

 

Facebook + iPhone = Winning combination

If you ask us, iPhone’s geolocation features and built-in GPS
sensor — combined with the Facebook Connect platform — open a whole new world
of possibilities for iPhone developers. Given that Facebook commands
such a large worldwide social networking audience, the ability to
interact with Facebook friends right from within an iPhone application
should yield remarkable new uses for Apple’s handset — or at least make
it more fun. [Don’t see it, Chris. -Editor] You could argue that RIM’s BlackBerry has had a limited
Facebook integration on an operating system level for quite some time.
Indeed, handsets like Bold can post the pictures you take using a built-in
camera directly to a photo album in your Facebook account, even changing your profile picture. On iPhone though, you don’t get this capability out of
the box unless you install the official Facebook application which
still won’t let you set your profile picture.

Facebook + iPhone OS 3.0:  A future combination

It remains to be seen if Apple has integrated Facebook Connect into the iPhone
OS 3.0, scheduled for tomorrow’s introduction. We wouldn’t be entirely
surprised if iPhone OS 3.0 is packed with tight Facebook integration on an
OS-level, exposing Facebook Connect services to
third-party developers via an extended SDK framework. In fact, we’d be
disappointed if Apple doesn’t show us Facebook-enhanced
applications preloaded on the iPhone tomorrow. For example, it would
be really cool if the built-in Maps application had a feature that puts
nearby Facebook friends as pins on a map, enabling you to send them
messages right from within Maps application. Or, the ability to use
Photos application to post images to our Facebook profiles.


THE NEXT IPHONE OS TO FEATURE FACEBOOK INTEGRATION
As we await for Apple to take the wraps off iPhone OS 3.0 tomorrow, some think an updated iPhone OS will sport out-of-the-box Facebook support to let users post images to their profiles, change profile images, post content from other iPhone applications into Facebook feeds, etc. TG Daily will be disappointed if this feature is not tightly integrated.


Conclusion: Apple already talks to Facebook

It’s not science fiction, Facebook Connect makes things possible. If
Facebook decided to expose its Connect service to iPhone developers,
there is really no reason why Apple shouldn’t be using it in iPhone OS
3.0. Watchful readers could note that it wouldn’t be the first time.
The company’s iLife ’09 digital lifestyle suite, unveiled early
January, already packs a limited Facebook integration, allowing iPhoto
’09
to post images directly to your Facebook account. In addition,
iPhoto ’09 can also automatically update names of people in your
library with name tags that Facebook users apply to Facebook albums
synced with iPhoto ’09. Likewise, a web site creation tool called iWeb
’09
can automatically post updates to your Facebook profile whenever
you update content of your site in iWeb ’09.


APPLE ALREADY TALKS TO FACEBOOK
Those who think that Facebook integration with iPhone OS 3.0 is just wishful thinking should take note that some OS X applications already feature tight Facebook integration. For instance, iWeb ’09 posts site updates to your Facebook feed, while iPhoto ’09 automatically adds Facebook name tags to images from your library synced with your Facebook albums.

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