Facebook to enrich mobile with HTML5

Facebook hopes to match all features of its website on mobile platforms

Facebook has an internal tool for developing mobile applications primarily using HTML5, which eventually should allow it to bring every feature of its Web platform onto mobile devices.

Facebook used the tool, internally called Faceweb, to introduce continuous News Feed updates to mobile devices last week, said Erick Tseng, head of mobile products at Facebook. The company hopes to have conjoined launches of feature updates on both mobile applications and the Web, he said at the Mobilize conference in San Francisco.

"The reason we're so excited about Faceweb is because by using HTML5 instead of all native development ... it allows us to actually keep pace with desktop features," Tseng said. HTML5 is a standard Web development language that can bring many capabilities of native apps, including offline operation, to the Web.

Facebook considers itself not a social network but a platform that can be pervasive throughout a user's mobile experience, Tseng said. Device makers including HTC and Sony Ericsson have already used Facebook APIs (application programming interfaces) to integrate Facebook functions deep in Android phones. This lets users plug into the "social graph" of the platform without even consciously going into a Facebook app or logging in. "That's a platform," Tseng said.

One new feature headed to mobile devices is Ticker, the real-time stream of friends' posts that appears in the corner of the Web browser. Ticker is especially well-suited to mobile because users can quickly check up on what's happening when they briefly have time, such as at a bus stop, Tseng said.

However, Tseng said he couldn't comment on whether Facebook will be integrated into Apple iOS 5, the new operating system coming in the iPhone 5, which is expected to debut next week. Apple disclosed earlier this year that the OS will include Twitter integration.

"I think it would be a great combination. Hope to see it soon," Tseng said.

Tseng also declined to comment on when an expected Facebook app for the iPad will come out.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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