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Summary:

Facebook today matured its SDK for iOS, adding support for OAuth 2.0 and an updated API for Facebook’s social graph, making it easier for developers to use Facebook data in apps. Might this update set the stage for a future link between Facebook and Apple?

Facebook today matured its SDK for Apple iOS, adding authentication support for OAuth 2.0 and an updated API for Facebook’s social graph to make it easier for developers to read or write data to Facebook. These updated features are available for programmers who build third-party applications for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, allowing the apps to offer a social component, such as posting high scores on a Facebook wall or playing head-to-head with Facebook friends.

Earlier today, I spoke about the SDK updates with Luke Shepard, an engineer with the Facebook Platform team, who expressed optimism that many developers will integrate Facebook with mobile applications. The most compelling example of adding social components to apps so far is in the gaming area, but Shepard pointed out how news and information applications are beginning to benefit from Facebook as well. Indeed, Flipboard for the iPad is a recent example of news consumption through social networking while the recent Vonage for Facebook app connects friends through voice calls.

While the updated Facebook SDK for iOS doesn’t offer groundbreaking new features to third-party developers, it does bring parity to Facebook’s SDK for Android, which launched in beta this past May. Since U.S. Android device sales passed those of iOS earlier in the year — and also just jumped past BlackBerry handsets — I asked Shepard if platform market share numbers factor into Facebook’s mobile roadmap. “We don’t favor one platform over another,” Shepard said. “We want to help developers make applications social on all platforms.”

That statement causes me to wonder about the rumored link between Apple and Facebook for iTunes and iOS. It’s still possible that Apple will want to build social functionality more tightly into its products, and Facebook would be the natural partner for more core functions like recommendations of third-party apps based on friends’ behavior, for example.

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  1. To me, logic dictates that Apple and Facebook will get a whole lot closer, if for no other reason than the enemy of my enemy (Google) is my friend.

    Plus, there is limited strategic overlap between the two (Apple has repeatedly proven not to “get” social or user-generated content; Facebook is not going to directly get into the device hardware game); both share similar philosophies on tight, 1+1=3 integration of user experiences and orchestrated platforms; and of course, both envy each other’s installed base and engagement levels.

    Finally, while I don’t see Apple ever building a Search Engine, they need to disrupt Google’s primary revenue and engagement driver, and Facebook is the best way to do that, especially since you KNOW that Facebook will come out with a social graph powered search engine at some point in the near future. How could they not?

    Food for thought.

    Mark

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