New Facebook mobile changes for iOS

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Iphone screenshot of facebook appOur Park Bench and Scratching Post Facebook apps have gone from strength to strength since their launch earlier this year, with over 7,000 pet owners making their own pet profile.

One of the challenges faced when building Facebook apps in the past has been how to make them accessible to mobile users. Whilst Facebook offers quite a good mobile interface for Pages, using and discovering apps built within Facebook has proven a challenge.

Last week Facebook made some changes to how its platform works for mobile apps, and I wanted to highlight 3 of them which I think are particularly interesting:

A new mobile and web app

Similar to Twitter’s mobile app changes back in May, Facebook has narrowed the gap between their mobile web experience and native apps on iOS (Blackberry/Android presumably coming soon). The Facebook iPad and iPhone apps now perform almost exactly the same as their m.facebook.com experience.

Bookmarks

A familiar part of the Facebook web experience, bookmarks are added on the left hand side of your home page once you’ve authorised an app. Its a handy place to keep track of the apps you use most, along with your Pages, Groups and Events. The new Facebook app and mobile web app now features the same set of information in a pop out.

If you’re a brand who uses a Facebook app to engage with your audience, keeping your app at the forefront of their mind is really important. The bookmarks overlay means you can do this as easily on someone’s mobile as you can on the desktop.

Requests

An extension to the Facebook notification system, requests are a neat way to invite your friends to join an app you’re using. You can share that you’re using an app, or prompt them to take a turn in a game. Requests are a likely to become an important tool when looking to grow the audience for your app - the equivalant of ‘sharing’ a post or image from a page.

Zynga (originally of Farmville fame) are one of the first to take advantage of this, building the Words with Friends on the new mobile platform. If you’ve previously created an account through the (rather addictive) iPhone app and connected to Facebook you’ll be able to play the game on your mobile web browser, and indeed on the Facebook desktop. You’ll get all the notifications you’re used to when someone has taken a turn, and you can start a game on your desktop and continue on your mobile browser.

By making it easier for app developers to build mobile apps within Facebook, and providing some of the social channels we’ve become familiar with on the ‘full’ Facebook experience I think Facebook has started to open its mobile audience up to even more exciting opportunities.


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