Facebook Updates Mobile Platform with Location APIs, Single Sign-On, and Deals

Facebook is launching a new set of features on its mobile platform, which will allow application developers access to information such as a user’s location, apps to use Single Sign-on, and Places to run Deals promotions. Mobile will now have Single Sign-on, so you can log in once and click a button to instantly log in later, which should reduce login friction. The Places Write API has been whitelist only, but today the write API is being opened up to all developers.

Facebook is seeking to allow developers to build in a social environment no matter what phone they’re building on, whether that’s RIM, Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, or the mobile web. The company recently reached the milestone of 200 million people actively using Facebook mobile products across all platforms.

Single Sign-On

The first major development is Single Sign-on. “No one enjoys logging in”, says Erick Tseng, Facebook’s Head of Mobile Products. “Retrieving a lost password has also been very difficult on a phone.”  Single Sign-on removes the need to ever type in a username or password again.

Apps which integrate with Facebook on iPhone and Android will query the Facebook for iPhone or Facebook for Android app to check to make sure a user is signed in. If they are, users simply need to click “login” in the app to access it. If they are logged out of Facebook via their phone’s native app, they’ll be prompted to log in to Facebook, but won’t be making an app-specific Facebook login. Once logged in, users will see the permissions screen if they haven’t previously allowed the app access to their different data categories, and then begin their app experience.

“Most users don’t log out of Facebook on their iPhone or Android. Single Sign-on saves you time doing the things you have to do, so you can spend more time doing things you want to do.”

Single Sign-on uses the exact same permissions system that a half million apps use on Facebook today.

Groupon

A big barrier to trying a Groupon is not wanting to sign-in or sign-up. Now users can quickly sign-in through Facebook and instantly buy a Groupon.

Zynga

Zynga Poker will debut on the Android platform. Every day the app has 6 million users. To log in, users simply need to click “Tap to login through Facebook”, allow the permissions, and they’re logged in. “Zynga wants to be anywhere and everywhere” says their GM of Mobile Product.

Other Launch Partners

Loopt, Scvngr, Yelp, Flixster, and Booyah! are also launch partners for the updated mobile platform.

Location APIs

“Stuff fundamentally changes when we add new data to the graph, it allows developers to do things they couldn’t do before. Mobile doesn’t have to just be a shadow of the desktop. Location isn’t just a node in the graph, but information that could be part of all content.”

Facebook is opening up the Read API, the Write API, and the Search API , allowing developers to:

  • Read where your friends are
  • Write and publish check-ins
  • Search for relevant Places

Previously, if a user checked in through Yelp, it could use stream.publish to send the check-in to the news feed.  “But its not something that will pop out at you if you’re looking for location stories” says Facebook’s Dave Fetterman.

Now users will be able to see check-ins from all services on the Places check-ins feed. Clicking one of these check-ins will open the Places page on the service that published the check-in, such as a Yelp venue page.

“If you don’t have a Places data set, the Search API will come to the rescue.” It will show developers the Places around a user, ranked by their relevance to the user. This allows developers of all sizes to create mobile social local applications.”