Facebook announces new mobile platform features to give app developers better tools

Facebook today announced a number of changes meant to improve the experience and increase the possibilities for mobile developers building apps that integrate with the social network. This includes new Open Graph APIs, a standard mobile share dialog, faster login and a Technology Partners program to help developers find third-party solutions that suit their needs.

One of the most significant developments announced today is the Object API, which allows mobile developers to create Open Graph objects without having to host corresponding webpages. Previously, applications had to serve data into Open Graph through web endpoints, so native iOS and Android apps weren’t able to build the same types of experiences or gain the same opportunities for distribution and discovery as web-basedd apps, unless they have the resources to build a web backend. Now this won’t be necessary and mobile or web apps can use the Object API for easier object creation.

Facebook is also introducing an object privacy model to allow objects that have custom or non-public privacy settings. This is especially important for some of the user generated content that comes from mobile apps. Web-hosted objects, on the other hand, have always had to be public. To help developers manage all their objects now, Facebook created a new “object browser” interface — seen below — that aims to organize developers’ objects in a more visual and intuitive way.

Another key development announced today is the native mobile share dialog. This gives developers a standard dialog, which already includes support for location tagging, friend tagging, custom privacy settings, deep linking and more. Similar to the Like button, the share dialog can be implemented with a small amount of code across any app and it works even if users haven’t logged into the app using Facebook. For now it is available in limited beta for iOS apps, but is in development for Android, the company says.

Facebook also officially announced changes to the mobile login dialogs, which have a new cleaner design and load up to 20 percent faster. We saw Facebook testing these last week. In connection with the changes announced in December 2012, the apps permissions process now separates read and write permissions into different dialogs. This means users have the option to log into an application and receive a personalized experience using their name, friend list and other aspects of their profile, but they can reject the app’s request to publish activity on their behalf.

Another important announcement made at Facebook’s Mobile Developer Conference in New York City today was the Facebook Technology Partners program with 10 initial companies. These are Facebook-approved developers providing technical developer tools. This is similar to the Preferred Marketing Developer program, but focused on solutions for developers rather than marketers. Corona Labs, Kinvey, Thuzi, Parse, Adobe, Microsoft, Sencha, StackMob, Trigger.io and Prime31 are the initial partners, and more information about their offerings are available here. Most of what these companies provide are paid solutions, but there are often different tiers depending what a developer needs.

Finally, Facebook also released an update for the Facebook SDK for iOS, which includes support for the Object API, native Share Dialog and native Login Dialog announced today. The SDK no longer supports iOS versions earlier than 5.0.