Firefox Beta Launches Social API With Facebook Messenger As Initial Partner

By David Cohen 

As originally announced earlier this month by Firefox parent Mozilla, the beta test of the Web browser’s Social API launched Monday with Facebook Messenger for Firefox.

The Social API is a way for Mozilla to allow developers to integrate their social services directly into Firefox, and users of the beta version of the Web browser for Windows, Mac, and Linux should be able to integrate with Facebook with one click, after which Facebook Messenger will appear in their social sidebars.

Mozilla said in Monday’s announcement:

Social sites aren’t like other Web applications. Rather than being focused on a particular task, we use social sites throughout our day: We check back for updates, we chat with friends, we share. When we started to talk about integrating social into Firefox, that was our guiding principle: Make it easy to stay connected; stop treating social like “just another tab.” We also see potential for endless Social API integrations beyond social sites — imagine using the sidebar as an easy way to keep up with news, finance, email, etc.

We think we’ve built something really cool. When you turn on social integration, you get a sidebar of social news and chat that stays put as you browse around the Web — no need to switch between or open a new tab. You also get the ability to share the page you’re visiting with a single click in the address bar. The site can even let you know when you have new notifications, all without leaving the page you’re visiting. Of course, when you need to focus, you can also hide it away.

While we built our side of the Social API, the Facebook Messenger team built theirs, as our first supported social provider. Our teams worked together to check assumptions and debug issues, but we also pushed each other to build something excellent. Social API has the capability to support multiple providers, and we want to build a social standard for the Web, much like we did with the OpenSearch standard. We’ll soon add more support for more providers, and eventually even for multiple social sites at once, but for our initial launch, we couldn’t have asked for a better partner.

To get started, just upgrade to the latest Firefox beta, and then visit Facebook like you normally would. When Facebook offers you Firefox integration, it’s a single click to install and give it a try. It’s just as easy to remove, and obviously, if you decline the initial offer, nothing will ever be installed. The Social API doesn’t change what social providers can see about your online behavior unless you explicitly decide to share it, but it does make it much easier to stay connected.

Readers: Will you try out Facebook Messenger via Firefox beta’s Social API?