Tech titans Facebook and Apple have a contentious relationship that is frequently put to the test. But a Facebook for TouchPad application was very nearly the last straw, Mashable has learned from multiple sources.
We also expect announcements on a new Facebook for iPhone application, a Facebook HTML5 mobile app platform, and perhaps even Facebook integration in iOS 5.
This all marks a significant leap forward in the sometimes hostile Facebook and Apple relationship. It began well when Apple first set up an Apple Students group on Facebook in 2006 — “a monster success” for both companies, according to a source who spoke with Mashable on the condition of anonymity.
But the companies would butt heads many times in the following years.
How Ping Went Wrong
The most publicized confrontation involved Ping, Apple’s attempt at an iTunes social network. Ping first launched with Facebook integration in September 2010, but Facebook quickly pulled Apple’s access to its APIs. This alerted the media to a growing rift between the companies.
A source familiar with the chain of the events attributes the Ping debacle to a disagreement over iOS 4. Apple had fully integrated Facebook into the iPhone and iPad’s operating system, and was ready to launch the mobile-social fusion when API negotiations broke down. Apple, lacking confidence in Facebook’s ability to build a great application, asked to build its own Facebook for iPhone app. Facebook responded with a firm no. Negotiations came to halt.
Meanwhile, Apple was working away on Ping — and due to the stalled iOS 4 talks, decided to keep Facebook mostly out of the loop. Facebook, surprised by Ping’s launch, turned off Apple’s access to its APIs. The rest was history.
Jobs vs. Zuck
The Facebook icon looks the same. Note the Cydia and iFile icons. Right now, in order to access Facebook for iPad, you need to be running a jailbroken iPad 1 or iPad 2.
The default screen is the Facebook News Feed.
News Feed Options
You can select various filters for the app, just like in Facebook on the desktop.
Sliding the main window to the right reveals an enhanced Facebook sidebar. This interaction, which is similar to Twitter for iPad, provides access to Groups, Events, Places and Messages.
In landscape mode, the panel appears alongside the elongated news feed if swiped to the right.
Sharing a status update works as expected. Tapping on the lock icon shows you visibility options.
Photo albums are displayed in a grid-like manner, using the same styling Apple uses in its Photos app.
You can create a new album or add photos from your device to an existing album.
Notifications are accessible throughout the app.
Facebook Chat works on the iPad. Users can communicate iChat style through the panel on the right.
Facebook Chat works quite well, but note the lack of hyperlink support.
Like or Comment
A modal window gives an option to "Like" or comment on a post or status update.
Places Check In
Who says the iPad isn't mobile! Facebook Places is supported in the app.
Places Map view
Places Friends View
Groups can be accessed from the side panel.
User Wall Interactions
In landscape mode, comments and likes on a status update or wall post appear in the right hand panel.
Viewing Comments on a Photo
Replying to Comments
To log out, tap the arrow underneath your name in the left side panel.
Facebook for iPad supports multiple accounts, which is great for users who share an iPad with other family members.
Remove an Account
To remove an account, tap and hold the profile photo and then tap on the "X."
Remove Account Options
When an account is removed, all the information about it is wiped off of the device as well.
Roughly three months ago, Steve Jobs — then the Apple CEO — paid a visit to Facebook to discuss a Facebook for iPad application with CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg promised Jobs that the social network would release its first ever tablet application for iPad. Jobs, however, learned during his visit that HP was about to release a native webOS Facebook application for the TouchPad.
Indeed, back on February 9, 2011 — the date HP revealed its almost defunct TouchPad tablet — HP SVP of Applications and Services Steven McArthur did tout the fact that the company had been working closely with Facebook.
The Facebook application that HP finally launched in July, however, appears to be an unofficial build that disappointed users.
So what happened to the rich Facebook for TouchPad application that HP promised?
HP Plays the Cuckold
Image courtesy of PCMag.com
When Jobs learned of the webOS Facebook app during his summer visit to Facebook, he was livid. Zuckerberg vowed to get the app pulled. But Jon Rubinstein, the former CEO of Palm and then the GM of HP’s webOS division, refused to halt the release of the app. Facebook responded by restricting HP’s access to its APIs — just as it had done with Apple’s Ping, a year earlier.
Was Facebook playing both sides? Absolutely, says a source close to HP. Facebook was made aware of the application and device integrations. The company knew what was coming, changed its tune right before release — and only did so to appease Apple.
For its part, HP was furious. It had hoped the Facebook application would help differentiate the TouchPad from other tablets on the market. Another source says that HP may have considered legal action. In any case, the TouchPad was discontinued shortly after.
Kiss and Make Up?
So Facebook and HP may be on the outs, but Facebook and Apple appear to have patched up their differences.
Not only are the pair finally aligned on the Facebook for iPad application, but they’ve been working together closely on Facebook’s HTML 5 mobile app platform.
This is the closest Apple and Facebook have been to creating something meaningful together, one source says. They’re partnering because they share a common enemy: Google.