The launch of Facebook Platform for mobile earlier this week was the culmination of what had been known as “Project Spartan” in the tech world (although Facebook is said to have used another name for the project internally). On the same day as the release of the social network’s long-awaited iPad app, Facebook announced that games and apps on the Facebook Platform can now be accessed on mobile devices.
Integrating an HTML5 game with the Facebook Platform opens up a lot of possibilities for developers looking to distribute and monetize a game. Here are a few of the new features available to help HTML5 web app developers establish a mobile presence on the world’s largest social network:
Bookmarks are the main engagement channel for most mobile apps, and provide easy access for users to find and play your game. Previously, bookmarks and the other social engagement channels were accessible only from the desktop version of facebook.com (under “Apps” in the left-hand sidebar), but now mobile users can find and launch their apps from their phone or tablet, as well. Bookmarks are found in a menu in the iOS and web apps:
When tapped, the bookmark will either install and launch the corresponding native application, or redirect to the HTML5 web app through the web browser. Developers of native iOS applications who want to integrate with the Facebook Platform need to install the iOS SDK and implement Single-Sign-On support (here’s the documentation page from Facebook with the details).
Requests are a big part of social gaming. Inviting friends, sharing rewards, sending in-game messages — all require the requests dialog that was previously only available to apps on facebook.com. Now, mobile developers can add the new request dialog to allow for cross-platform gameplay and social interaction. For instance, someone playing a game on facebook.com can invite a friend to play, who can then respond via their iOS Facebook app or HTML5 web app.
Integrating the News Feed
The News Feed is the superhighway of Facebook, and one of the biggest distribution resources on the web. The Feed dialog for apps has been updated to allow mobile users to interact with app activity on their News Feed. This type of story used to be only visible on the desktop — mobile users couldn’t see the app activity of their friends or subscribers. Now, on your mobile app you see a friend has been playing Words With Friends. Tapping the story in the News Feed will now launch the native app (for iOS users) or the browser-based HTML5 application.
The currency of games and applications on the Facebook Platform is the Facebook Credits program, which allows users to purchase items, upgrades, and other accessories without leaving the game. The Credits system has been expanded to mobile applications on the Platform, giving HTML5 game developers a safe, easy option to monetize their games. Facebook’s policies for Credits haven’t changed, though. Developers aren’t allowed to use another payment system, and Facebook takes a 30% cut of revenues.
Those are a few of the new features that Facebook mobile apps now support. Others, like the Like Button, are supported only in the HTML5 web app and not in the iOS native applications. The charts on this mobile distribution page show which features are supported for which type of app.
Check out Facebook’s documentation page for mobile applications for more information about developing and distributing a game on the Facebook Platform. Also, this showcase of mobile apps has some good examples of applications which are supported on the new mobile Platform. Hop on your smartphone or tablet and give one or two a test drive.
Image courtesy of Facebook
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