Facebook has set its sights on the mobile space and is looking to software developers to help expand its growing presence on devices.
Pledging platform stability and increased user control over data, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook officials detailed a series of improvements Wednesday to accommodate mobile apps that integrate with Facebook services. "Most of you are building mobile apps," Zuckerberg said in discussing the company's transition to a mobile focus at the F8 Facebook Developer's Conference in San Francisco. The company plans to offer cross-platform tools and services to make it easier to build and monetize applications for multiple mobile platforms.
On the API front, Facebook rolled out API versioning to ensure that apps continue to work, and it introduced a new stability guarantee dictating that core APIs will be supported for at least two years even if Facebook changes them. The emphasis on stability extends to a service-level agreement in which Facebook is committed to fixing all major bugs within 48 hours. Media companies will get new public content APIs to help them leverage Facebook content and data.
Zuckerberg emphasized issues with siloed development in the mobile space, with Microsoft, Apple, and Google having their own platforms. Facebook, meanwhile, wants to provide tools to bridge platforms.
Facebook users are getting more control over data within apps as well as anonymous login capability for logging into apps without sharing personal information from Facebook with developers. A new Message Dialog capability for iOS and Android allows for the sharing of content from apps via Facebook Messenger, and the Send to Mobile capability lets users send an app to their phone after visiting a website and logging in via Facebook.
The company's FbStart program will provide mobile startups with a resources and tools. For monetization, Facebook is expanding testing of its Audience Network for advertisers to extend Facebook campaigns to mobile apps and to make use of Facebook's targeting and reporting capabilities.
An F8 attendee took notice of Facebook taking charge of its mobile fate. "It's clear that Facebook's putting a lot of emphasis on mobile, and they want to own the mobile app ecosystem, the mobile ad ecosystem, which is why they're trying to get every mobile developer to serve their ads," said Rich Sutton, CTO at Nexgate, which offers a compliance and security application that works with Facebook. He appreciated the company's emphasis on APIs. "The primary thing that we want is the stability in the APIs. We have a very deep API integration. We make a lot of calls into the API, and I'm very happy that Facebook is transitioning from a company that lets it fly to a company that understands that they're becoming an important layer of substrate on the Internet."
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