updated 04:00 pm EDT, Wed November 3, 2010
Facebook mobile adds location write, deals, more
Facebook during its special mobile event today changed some of the fundamental structure of its mobile platform to bolster third-party apps and add Foursquare-style deals. Android and iPhone apps will now have access to the write and search components of the Places location interface. The update allows apps to not only check into Places themselves but to search and take advantage of the new mobile feature set.
As examples, users on Yelp can check into both its own check-in system and to Facebook Places at the same time. Loopt also planned to make Places a core part of its location-based social networking and see both those nearby and look into a friend's check-in history for advice. A friend who knows the restaurants in the area may be useful for check-ins, Loopt's Sam Altman said.
The deal program, known simply as Deals, will reward those who visit a store often or under certain conditions. It can give individual discounts, but it can also reward users for loyalty (such as a fourth beer free), if they visit with enough friends tagged to the check-in, or give a certain portion of a sale to a charity. Users have to be physically present and show the check-in to qualify, potentially cutting back on frauds.
Single sign-in rounded out the main updates and will let users sign in once for a given app rather than in each instance it needs to connect to Facebook. The approach should reduce the hassle of logging in on mobile apps and is intended to spur more developers to use Facebook for their services. Sign-ins will initially be confined to the apps themselves but should eventually allow a web or the official Facebook app to sign in and eliminate the need for sign-ins elsewhere.
SDKs for single sign-in are available now for Android and come next week for the iPhone. Location API information is web-based and available today. Deals are also launching now and will initially include major deals with The Gap, the Alamo Drafthouse, The North Face, Las Vegas' The Palms Hotel and the Golden State Warriors. H&M, McDonald's, Starbucks and several other firms are also joining in.