Facebook introduced single sign-on for its iPhone and Android applications, along with Facebook Deals for the iPhone. Deals threatens check-in services from Foursquare and Gowalla.
Facebook rolled out single sign-on and other features geared to improve
information sharing on Apple iPhone and Google Android smartphones for the
social network's 200 million mobile users.
The company, which made the news at its Palo Alto,
Calif., headquarters Nov. 3, also unveiled
Facebook Deals to let users of the Facebook Places service get discounts to
local businesses when they check into them from the iPhone.
Facebook single sign-on (SSO) for any Android phone or any iPhone, iPad or
iPod Touch gadget provides users with a big time-saving perk, Erick Tseng, head
of mobile products at Facebook, said
at the event.
Users logged into Facebook can easily log into applications that support SSO
with a single click without typing in a user name and password every time they
want to access the app.
This saves a lot of aggravation for users, which ultimately means they will
be more likely to engage with mobile commerce opportunities from Facebook and
Facebook SSO is available today on Android apps such as Groupon, Loopt,
SCVNGR, Yelp, Flixster and Zynga Poker, with SSO for iPhone apps available
Facebook's new Android 1.4 app now supports Facebook Places
, allowing users to check into restaurants,
businesses and other locations from their Android handset.
Also new to the Android 1.4 app is support for Facebook Groups
, which lets users message small groups of
friends in a private space, also from an Android phone.
The Facebook for iPhone 3.3 app also supports Groups, along with a new
composer to improve checking in and photo taking.
In addition, the app has been updated to include a starred friends list so
users needn't scroll to find their contacts on their iPhone.
Facebook Deals, meanwhile, launched for U.S.
users on the new Facebook for iPhone 3.3 application today, with plans to roll
out to Android later.
iPhone users can already use Facebook Places to share their location with
friends, but with the iPhone 3.3 app, users can leverage Facebook Deals to find
nearby offers from restaurants and retailers.
To find deals, users must go to touch.facebook.com or the latest version of
Facebook for iPhone, touch "Places" and then "Check In."
Nearby Places with deals have a yellow icon, according to these screenshots
iPhone users can view the deal and check in to claim it, then show their
phone to the cashier to get the gift or discount.
Deals will vary from merchant to merchant and will include individual
discounts: "friend deals," where users will claim offers together;
"loyalty deals" for being a frequent visitor to a place; and
"charity deals," where businesses pledge to donate to a cause when
users check in.
Current participating businesses in Deals include American Eagle Outfitters,
which is offering 20 percent off merchandise; Gap, which will offer free jeans
to the first 10,000 customers to claim their deal; and Starbucks, which will
donate $1 per check-in to Conservation International.
Facebook Deals threatens to blow up the monetization strategy of services
such as Foursquare and Gowalla, which have long been offering deals and coupons
to people who check in to businesses.
Without Deals, few Facebook users had the incentive to use Facebook Places
instead of Foursquare, which has 4 million users, most of whom are already