RealTime IT News

Facebook Rolls Out Connect Sync Tool for iPhone

Facebook is porting its vision of an open, interconnected social Web to the mobile world, bringing its Connect tool to the hottest smartphone on the scene.

On Saturday at the South by Southwest 2009 conference, Facebook unveiled Connect for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch, adding a feature that enables developers to sync up their applications for the devices with the sprawling social network.

Facebook debuted Connect last year amid a flurry of initiatives from firms like Google, Yahoo and MySpace to make the social Web a more interconnected place. Facebook Connect enables people to send content from their profiles on the social network such as photos and links to participating sites around the Web, including Digg, Twitter and Hulu.

With Connect for the iPhone, developers will be able to add that same integration to the applications they create for Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) hugely popular mobile device.

"With the explosion of iPhone apps over the last year, we've seen a lot of requests from people who want all the benefits from Facebook on their iPhone," Facebook engineer Joe Hewitt said in a video announcing the new feature.

Facebook's expansion of its iPhone integration comes just days before Apple is expected to offer details of the forthcoming iPhone 3.0 software for third-party developers. Apple is hosting an event at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters on Tuesday to preview the highly anticipated software update for iPhone apps, which are widely credited for the device's surging popularity.

Facebook launched Connect for the iPhone with a spate of apps already on board, including the Urban Spoon restaurant review tool and several popular games.

With the new service, users can log into a participating iPhone app with their Facebook credentials, connect with their network of friends and port the activity back to their Facebook profiles. That means that people could play a game like iBowl against their Facebook friends using an iPhone, and post the results back to their Facebook page as a news story.

"If you've used Facebook Connect on the Web, this will seem pretty familiar," Hewitt said. "You can now use Facebook Connect on your iPhone in the same way you can for a Web site."

The feature will also bring a geo-awareness to Facebook, as members on the go can share location and status updates through their mobile devices.

Facebook made a point of noting that users' privacy controls on the PC version of the Connect feature will carry over to the iPhone apps.

The iPhone integration continues Facebook's evolution into a platform for real-time communications, closely following a redesign of its home page and the addition of a Twitter-like feature for short-message status updates.