Photo: Illustration by Business Insider
Facebook announced a huge extension of its mobile platform today, and as long rumoured, the company is going to be spreading its payment platform, Facebook Credits, to the mobile versions of all Facebook apps.This could have been a blow to Apple, giving a way for developers to sell content — like virtual goods, song downloads, or news subscriptions — within iPhone apps without having to go through Apple’s App Store and give Apple its 30% cut.
Except that Facebook won’t let developers use Facebook Credits on the iPhone or iPad.
Here’s the relevant bit from a post by Facebook’s Luke Shepard that will appear on Facebook’s Blog shortly:
Today, we are extending Facebook Credits to support mobile web apps. Facebook Credits is a payment system that provides a safe, easy way for users to pay for your content. The same policies are also extended to mobile web apps, requiring all games to use Facebook Credits as their exclusive payment mechanism. By requiring games to use Credits on both mobile web and apps on Facebook, we offer our shared users a simple and consistent experience when buying virtual goods in games. Native iOS apps and mobile web apps that are running within a Facebook iOS app may not use Facebook Credits. [emphasis ours]
Now we have a pretty good idea what took so long to get the iPad app approved — Facebook and Apple were probably going back and forth over this point. Apple won.
The updated Facebook mobile platform has a lot of other features for mobile developers that help users discover and spread their apps, and a lot of these features were done in cooperation with Apple.
- Bookmarks. When users install a Facebook app, bookmarks to the mobile version of that app will now appear within the Facebook app on iPhone and iPad. If users click on the bookmark, the mobile version of app will be launched — unless users don’t have it. In that case, they’ll be guided to the iTunes App Store to buy it.
- Requests. Facebook apps will now be able to send requests to mobile phone versions of the same app. For instance, if I’m playing a game on the Facebook Web site, and my opponent is playing on her iPhone, she’ll see a notification whenever the app tells her something (like “your move, sucker.”)
- News feed. When mobile users see an app notification in their Facebook news feed, they’ll now be able to tap on that notification to launch the app. Previously, users could see app notifications on the mobile version of Facebook, but couldn’t interact with them.
- Authenticated referrals. Whenever a user gets one of these notifications on their mobile device, they will be prompted to log in before launching the mobile app. This lets developers deliver a personalised experience.
The updates are available on iOS and Facebook’s mobile Web site today, but are coming to Android native apps soon.
Developers can get all the details on Facebook’s developer site. Facebook is also holding a Mobile Hack event on October 28 for interested developers.