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How Facebook could integrate with iOS, OS X

By Lex Friedman
May 31, 2012 03:45 PM ET

Macworld - Speaking at the All Things D conference on Tuesday night, Apple CEO Tim Cook essentially sent Facebook a friend request. "I think the [Apple-Facebook] relationship is very solid," Cook said. "We have great respect for them. I think we can do more with them."

But here's the part of Cook's comments that should be of particular interest to iOS device owners--and maybe even Mac users as well. "Anyone with iPhone or iPad wants to have the best experience with Facebook on any device," Cook continued. "So stay tuned."

iOS users have been staying tuned for some time now. It wasn't until iOS 5, released in October 2011, that iOS saw systemwide social integration--and that, of course, was with Twitter. Twitter is big and growing, but it is dwarfed by Facebook's massive magnitude; Mark Zuckerberg's social network is set to cross the one billion active users milestone by year's end. That's an awful lot of people.

What Facebook integration on iOS might look like

We have a head-start at imagining Facebook integration on iOS. Nearly everywhere that iOS 5 currently offers ties into Twitter, Facebook integration would work just as well--if not better.

The most prominent place where iOS could benefit from direct Facebook connections is the Camera app. Snapping a photo and then posting it to Facebook marks one spot where the iPhone is repeatedly smoked by Windows Phone--mostly because Windows Phone offers the ability to share photos to Facebook with a single tap.

Numerous other stock apps on iOS leverage your Twitter account, if you provide one (or more) in Settings: Safari, Phone, Contacts, Photos, Maps, and YouTube. Adding in Facebook integration points in those places to quickly share URLs, pictures, locations, videos, and the like makes good sense.

Facebook integration could help in other ways, too. iOS makes your Twitter login credentials available to other apps. That allows you to connect those apps with your Twitter account without needing to log in a second time, or trust another third party with your username and password. Today, many apps offer Facebook integration, but each app rolls its own: To authorize a given app to access your Facebook account, you either get tossed out to the Facebook app (if you've got it installed) or Safari, and then sent back to the original app again once you've given approval. Systemwide Facebook integration could make that process quicker and simpler.

Apple even uses Twitter to update your contacts' details. That's borderline comical, since Twitter isn't exactly the place folks go to ensure their contact information is up-to-date. Linking contacts with Facebook--so that iOS could grab your friends' self-provided phone numbers, email addresses, and photos--and update their records accordingly could prove especially useful. In theory, the Contacts app should be able to pull in your friends' birthdays from Facebook, too. Think how much more appreciative your contacts will be if you (seemingly unprompted) wish them a happy birthday via iMessage, instead of merely writing a post on their Wall at Facebook's direct urging.

Originally published on www.macworld.com. Click here to read the original story.
Reprinted with permission from Macworld.com. Story copyright 2012 Mac Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.
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