One of the big items for yesterday was the release of the Facebook Platform for mobile. Lots of people have picked up on the news, occasionally followed by “So what exactly is it?” It’s cool, but can be hard to understand if you haven’t already read up on the Facebook platform. And most of the news I read about the release makes me think that many of the people who have talking about it have done little besides see that Facebook released something mobile and immediately start gushing. So of course Russ and I had to hack around with it a bit and figure out what was in there.
The first thing to understand is that one of the main forms for Facebook apps (at least what I hear about and have seen most often) are the applications that put some info on your Facebook profile page. One of the things that Facebook has started allowing is markup within the snippets normally displayed on users profile pages to indicate what should be displayed on the users mobile profile page. Got that? You don’t setup a mobile web application that makes some calls to Facebook for services, which is what a lot of the postings so far make it sound like. If you’ve built a Facebook app before, or even read a bit of their developer docs, it all makes perfect sense. But if you’re normally doing mobile stuff and this is the first look you’ve taken, it can be hard to grok.
So what this allows you to do is build applications that have a presence on the Facebook Mobile side as well as the regular web side. If your next question is “why the hell would I want to do that?” you should really go and read about Facebook apps on the web side. The Facebook developer site has all the info about how to setup simple applications and get them running.
There’s also support for SMS interaction now as described in the wiki page. That seems to be pretty straightforward keyworded shortcode support with requests from end users getting sent to the callback URL for your application.
It’s interesting, but after digging in and checking out what’s in there most of the info I’ve seen online so far seems to be somewhat off base. Maybe it’s just the vagueness of journalistic reporting on tech, or maybe I was looking for some info to be in the writeups that I just shouldn’t have expected to see. Really what happened is that Facebook has added support for including user applications on their mobile site and opened up SMS interaction. Something I would love to see but have been having issues with is adding applications from the mobile version. Anyone tried that out and have it working? Because there’s no UI for it on the mobile version that makes me think it wasn’t meant to work, and trying to visit the app URL directly from my phone seems to verify that (I keep getting errors).