Facebook Announces New Mobile Capabilities

Facebook held a press conference at their headquarters this afternoon to announce the new capabilities they are providing to developers of mobile applications. With the new capabilities Facebook aspires to establish itself as a mobile platform. The three features that Facebook introduced today are single sign-on, location APIs, and a deals platform. Our sister site, AllFacebook.com, was in attendance and provided live updates throughout the event.

Single sign-on is intended to enable mobile developers to leverage Facebook’s identity and authentication system so that users don’t have to login as they start different mobile apps. During the event GroupOn and Zynga demonstrated how their apps have been updated to support single sign-on, and other social apps supporting it are Loopt, Flixter, and Yelp, amongst others.

The location APIs enable third party apps to incorporate the location of your Facebook friends who have checked in with Facebook Places. Loopt demonstrated how it will be able to show where your Facebook friends are located.

The deals platform enables local retailers to push promotions to users who check-in at their site in Facebook Places. Facebook announced 20 different deals that various companies are providing as part of the launch, the most significant of which is Gap giving away 10,000 pairs of jeans to users who check in to Gap on Facebook Places.

While there has been speculation that Facebook was in the process of developing a Facebook phone, Mark Zuckerberg said: “Now I want to talk about some of the platform stuff we’re doing. There’s been this rumor that Facebook is going to build a phone. What a novel idea, but… no!” Facebook did announce updates to the iPhone and Android apps, and the Android version is available now in the Android Market. The update adds support for Places and Groups to both apps, and notifications have been updates for the Android app so that when you tap a notification you return to the app rather the web site as it did previously.