Here's The Big Problem With Everything Facebook Announced This Week

Facebook made a lot of announcements at F8, its big developer conference, yesterday.

The biggest takeaway from the event is that Facebook, which failed to develop its own operating system, is trying to insert itself as a middle man that controls the iOS, Windows, and Android platforms.

Facebook is promising an ad network to help developers monetise their apps. It’s promising new code that will allow developers to link their applications just like websites are currently linked. It’s also offering a new way for users to login anonymously with Facebook, which will make signing into an application quicker and easier for users.

Of these big features, the linking between applications has people the most excited. The Web is built on linking. Google’s search engine is based on analysing how sites link to each other. In mobile, this sort of linking doesn’t exist. So, Facebook building a cross-platform linking solution is a big deal.

But, before people get too excited, they should take a deep breath and think about how this is going to play out in real life.

Are Apple and Google really going to sit back and let Facebook take over their platforms? Are they really going to let Facebook tell developers to insert code in their apps that circumvents how iOS and Android work?

As Rene Ritchie, who runs Apple site iMore, said on Twitter, “Announcing App Links a month before WWDC seems about as savvy as buying a new iPhone in August.”

Apple is about to introduce iOS 8, the latest version of its mobile software, in June. It’s possible that Apple has come up with its own, native solution to the app linking problem, and that it will be added to iOS 8. Or, it’s possible that Apple will change the code in iOS 8 thus making Facebook’s app linking solution useless.

Either way, Apple does not like people mucking around with its platform. So, we’re sceptical it’s going to let Facebook mess with the functionality of iOS.

Google is also growing more protective of its “open sourced” platform, Android. And if you think Google is going to let Facebook become the Google of mobile, you’re nuts. Google is holding its developers conference at the end of June. We wouldn’t be shocked to see Google add app linking of its own.

On a bigger picture level, Facebook has a track record of introducing new products and new features only to drop them a few months later after they fail to gain traction. Look at Poke, Gifts, Check-Ins, or Facebook Home. The very same thing could happen with App Links, especially if Apple and Google introduce their own app linking in June.

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