Some 350 million people access Facebook via mobile devices every month, and the social network is now giving app developers the tools to tap that exploding market with its launch of Facebook Platform for mobile.
Social Channels, previously available only to websites and apps on Facebook.com, will now allow mobile developers to use bookmarks, requests, and the newsfeed to help drive discovery and distribution of their apps.
Users of mobile website m.facebook.com, the iPhone, and the iPad will now be able to bookmark mobile versions of apps, which will either launch installed apps or direct users to the iTunes App Store for users of the Apple devices, or launch the mobile web versions of Facebook.com apps.
Facebook users can now receive app requests no matter how they access the social network, and tapping the notifications will guide them to the appropriate mobile version of the app.
And users can now interact directly with content from apps via their newsfeeds, being directed to the appropriate version of the app after clicking links from the newsfeed, the same way requests work.
Facebook also introduced authenticated referrals to Facebook Platform for mobile, which prompts users to log in before using a mobile version of an app that they had not previously accessed, allowing developers to “build a deeply personalized experience as soon as users arrive at your app,” the social network said.
Finally, Facebook Credits have gone mobile, as well, with the social network allowing developers to tap into the payment system and use it exclusively, ensuring a consistent experience no matter how the apps are accessed.
Facebook Credits cannot be used by native iOS apps or mobile apps running within Facebook iOS apps.
Facebook also announced that it will hold a mobile hack event in Silicon Valley October 28 for developers who want to learn more.
Facebook Platform Team Engineer Luke Shepard said:
We are at the beginning of bringing Facebook Platform apps to mobile. The features we are launching today are still under development. They will evolve as we learn more about building richer social experiences on mobile devices. In addition, we will extend our native support for more mobile platforms such as Android in the near future. We are excited to see what you will build with these features today and look forward to working with you as we improve these features.
If you already have a native iOS app, integration is as easy as implementing Single Sign-On using our iOS SDK. If you’re building a mobile Web app, you can leverage HTML5 to build an app that works across all modern devices, and get additional features by using technologies like PhoneGap for native distribution.
We have worked closely with some leading developers to create great new mobile experiences for users. Today, you can enjoy apps from Audiovroom, Branchout, Flixster, Gilt Groupe, and The Huffington Post, and games from EA, Moblyng, Storm8, Wooga, and Zynga.
You can start trying out these apps by visiting fb.me/mobileappshowcase on your phone or tablet. Most of these apps are built using HTML5, providing an experience that seamlessly works across iOS, Android, and other mobile devices.