One of the most popular features Facebook offers for app makers is Facebook Login, which enables easy sign-on to apps and websites using your Facebook account. Facebook claims that 85% of top-grossing apps are taking advantage of it today
At F8, the company announced a new wrinkle: developers can have users sign in to their apps using Facebook Login, even if those users don’t have a Facebook account. This will help Facebook attract app makers in developing countries, where nearly everybody has a cell phone but a lot of people don’t have Facebook accounts (yet).
When opening an AccountKit-powered app for the first time, the user is prompted to enter their cell phone number or email address. They get texted a six-digit verification code, kind of like the one your bank might send you. Enter that code, and you’re up and running in the app. It doesn’t even need a password.
Facebook promises that it’s not doing this as some nefarious plot to track users who don’t have an account; it’s more about helping developers find larger audiences in places where a Facebook account can’t be taken for granted.
“That global community is really important to us,” says Facebook product manager Eddie O’Neil. “The lack-of-a-Facebook account problem is definitely something we’ve heard about.”
AccountKit similar to Digits, a tool introduced by Twitter in 2014, which has a similar philosophy towards not relying on a social media account to login.
Other new additions to the Facebook developer platform announced today include Quote Sharing, a new way for apps to let you share snippets of text to the News Feed, and a “Save to Facebook” button that publishers can offer on their websites so users can read it later from the Facebook site or app. “Save to Facebook” builds on Facebook’s existing saved articles feature.
Facebook Analytics for Apps, which give developers insight into who’s using their apps and how, is also getting a boost: A new “People” tab gives insight into the demographics of your app’s users, via their Facebook profiles, alongside a new tool to manage and send push notifications within an app that can include emoji and gifs.
The overall theme, O’Neal says, is to make it easier for developers to get more people into their apps and websites — whether by helping them login, or by giving more avenues to reading and sharing their content.
“In all of these things, whether people see it or not, we’re putting people first,” says O’Neil.