Along with the removal of Google Maps in favour of its own Maps apps, perhaps the biggest news that Apple announced at WWDC was the plan to integrate Facebook with iOS. Apple had introduced Twitter integration with iOS 5 but had famously ignored the world’s most popular social network due to an earlier disagreement regarding Ping. So what exactly will Facebook on iOS 6 be like?
Apps and Sharing
Facebook will be integrated deeply with iOS and mixed with almost every facet of the interface, including the camera, Safari, App Store and Siri. With a simple tap users will be able to share content from the App Store, music from iTunes, videos on YouTube or photos taken from the camera with all of their friends on Facebook. Users can also share links to websites and chat with Facebook friends within Game Center.
The sharing of apps from the App Store will allow people to see what apps their friends are using and will be a great way to discover new apps. It is likely that the sharing of app downloads will greatly increase the number of apps downloaded from the App Store and also help spread the word for popular apps – which will certainly be welcomed news for many app developers.
Apple and Facebook will also publish a Facebook API for app developers allowing third party apps to interact with Facebook as seamlessly as iOS. This could be used for anything from sharing game scores to allowing easier sign ups to certain apps that require registration.
As well as sharing from within different apps, a Tap to Post button will be added to the notification center to provide a quick and easy method to update your status. This will be a much easier method to post a status update that will not require you to load up a Facebook app or web browser. This will be also joined by a Tap to Tweet button for Twitter.
There are already plans to extend the integration to work with Siri, so that users will be able to dictate status updates to Facebook. Judging by the Tap to Post feature this should be a fairly simple affair and increase the volume and frequency with which some people update their Facebook status.
Contacts and Events
The merging of iOS with Facebook means that other information can be shared between the two; friends on Facebook who have their phone number on their profile can be added to your iPhone contacts list and Facebook events can automatically be added to Calendar.
You can individually control which apps on your iPhone or iPad Facebook has access to, so if you wish to share photos and music via Facebook, but not your contacts, then you can set it up accordingly. Users will also be asked what information they wish to share the first time any app attempts to interact with Facebook.
More to Come…
iOS 6 is still in beta so Apple may add more functionality in by the time of its final release, but it is already shaping up to be the best Facebook experience available on any phone or tablet. A number of Android manufacturers have announced plans to produce “Facebook phones”; but last year’s HTC Salsa and the recently announced Sony Xperia Miro haven’t managed to captivate Facebook users as much as the new features for iOS.
Facebook integration gives Apple an edge in appealing to social networkers and, as Google has already created its own social network to compete directly against Facebook, it is unlikely that such integration will be added into Android as standard any time soon. Despite claims of rapid growth, Google Plus has limited appeal and so iOS 6′s Facebook integration is a heavy blow dealt to Google in its ongoing smartphone feud with Apple.