Facebook is in talks with Apple to create a version of its Facebook Home Android software for the iPhone, an executive of the social network has claimed.
Facebook Home was introduced to the British market on Tuesday evening. The free software is designed to convert Android handsets into “Facebook phones”, with a Facebook home screen and prominent roles for Facebook’s communication features such as instant messaging and free voice calls.
The software is designed to keep Facebook members engaged on the move for longer as they increasingly access their accounts from smartphones and tablets, and attract more mobile advertising.
The social network did not need Google’s approval or cooperation to build Facebook Home because of the permissive rules governing what developers can change in Android. Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt said on Tuesday it would be “counter to our public statements, our religion” to restrict the software, even though it effectively takes over Android devices for Facebook’s benefit.
Apple’s iOS is much more restricted, however.
Yet Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s director of product, has now claimed Apple is discussing allowing Facebook Home or something like it on iOS. The talks are in progress and nothing has been finalised, he said.
“We’ve shown them what we’ve built and we’re just in an ongoing conversation,” Mosseri said, referring to discussions with Apple.
On iPhone devices, the Home software would be tailored to what Apple prefers, Mosseri said. It could look much different than the Android version.
“It may or may not be Home,” he said. “We could also just bring some of the design values to the iOS app. That might be how it ends up. Or we could build just the lock screen. Maybe then it’s not called Home, it’s called something else.”
Apple declined to comment.
Mark Zuckerberg has said Facebook and Apple have a “great relationship”.
“We are integrated into the operating system with them,” Zuckerberg said. “We have an active dialogue to do more with them.”
Already, Facebook has issued an update to its iOS app that brings Chat Heads, a new feature in Facebook Home, to the iPhone.
But the suggestion that Apple could allow Facebook Home or anything similar on iOS drew scepticism from industry observers. Many doubt that Apple would bend its strict rules to allow any other company to influence the user interface of iOS. At the unveiling of Facebook Home last month, Zuckerberg admitted it would not be possible on iOS in the same form as the Android version.
“We’d love to offer this on iPhone, and we just can’t today, and we will work with Apple to do the best experience that we can within what they want,” he said.