December 17, 2008

What Happened to Facebook Connect for the iPhone?

By Jesse Stay of Stay N' Alive (Twitter/FriendFeed)

Back in July, I predicted we would see a mobile platform for Facebook announced, enabling developers to integrate Facebook into their own mobile applications.  The match makes sense.  Imagine the ability to combine the users of any app with the rich power of the Facebook platform, their friends, their friends' profiles, events, photos, and more, all from the power of your phone, and the rich capabilities of platforms such as the iPhone - GPS, contacts, portable computing all in one device.  The concept is powerful, and the natural evolution of an already powerful platform that seems to have revolutionized social app development.

Facebook confirmed, and clarified my theory at their F8 conference this year, when Benjamin Ling announced that Facebook would be releasing a framework on top of the iPhone which would enable Facebook Connect for the iPhone itself.  According to Ling (who is no longer at Facebook), the framework would be Cocoa-based, and had a projected release date for this fall.  When talking with Ling in person during the press conference at F8, Ling further confirmed these claims.

Since F8 and Ling's departure at Facebook, along with the recent Facebook Connect launch, we have yet to see any details regarding Facebook Connect on the iPhone.  Facebook has made no mention of it, nor have they hinted of future plans to integrate.  Is Connect for the iPhone still in the works?

Such news would be very welcome in light of a recent presentation organized by Jesse Pickard and Razorfish (which I also contributed to), which made the rounds recently.  The presentation gives examples of potential real-life applications of Facebook Connect.

Such potential examples included, iTunes, and some amazing potential examples on the iPhone.  The iPhone examples included screenshots of what it would be like if games included Facebook profiles within the games.  For instance, you could play Cro-Mag Rally with your Facebook friends online if the game were to integrate the framework.  Imagine the data that applications could post to Facebook in addition to retrieving the already rich platform Facebook provides.  Now, a true location-aware social network could really be possible, because most of the apps you use could potentially share that location with Facebook (we won't go into how scary that sounds - I'll save that for another article).

Of all the announcements from back in July, I certainly hope this one hasn't been nixed.  Facebook Connect and the iPhone are two powerful technologies, that in combination, could form one powerful partnership.  Of all predictions for 2009, Facebook Connect and the iPhone are one powerful relationship I am sure will happen.

Read more by Jesse Stay at Stay N' Alive.