Wednesday, August 15, 2007

iPhone specific Facebook

Whilst the Apple fanboy, Mac developers and seriously creative hackers are finding out ways and workarounds to build and install native applications on the iPhone, the wider web services are developing iPhone versions of their website (320 x 480 pixels) to work through the iPhone Safari browser.

iPhone Facebook is the latest in a recent spurt of web services to add an official version of the site (, Bloglines, Digg, StumbleUpon , Ning etc... being others). What's impressive with the iPhone version of Facebook is that it behaves like a **native application** although it's accessed via Safari. Arguably it lays out the main features and functions better than the main website too!

Of course you need to be online on a network to access the site which is a disadvantage over a native iPhone app that can work both in offline and online mode and have deeper level integration across applications (eg a game for example). However accessing Social Networking sites that's the whole point in my view... you need to be online to see the latest events from and interact with your Social Network.

As a side note. Facebook has replaced my Google ig and Netvibes homepage (I used to switch between them) when I logged in to my desktop. Why ?

Personalisation dashboards sites like Netvibes, iGoogle and Pageflakes whilst useful, are based around content and alerts. Without the email widgets (ie. communication alerts) these dashboard sites would be of lesser value in my opinion. Social Network sites however ** are ** based around communication and sharing from the off (also including the important feature of gossip). Content widgets and blog/news/content alerts can then be added afterwards eg. Flickr, eBay, etc..

It's just more fun to view what your Social Network(SN) are doing than looking at a weather update isn't it ? - as it's more likley to be the start of a conversation. (If you really want a weather update, add a weather widget to your favourite SN - there's bound to be a hundred or so).

Also because email or should I say Facebook email is already integrated by default - I tend to value those emails over other emails held in other platforms because they are from my immediate Social Network. No spam! (Although it would be nice to have an aggregated Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Hotmail access in Fb - unlikely though I know - see the point below).

Netvibes at least recognised this quickly and now have a Facebook module, but what happens when the next hot Social Networking site comes along or the major web email providers decline access via Netvibes' platform (eg. Yahoo, hotmail or Google) I wonder..?

So why not use Netvibes with web mail aggregation (whilst it continues) as well as a facebook module ? Well, I like the Fb environment more, it's setup way better for sharing comments, video and photos, turn-based games etc.. than other platforms... this is in part due to the application development environment Fb have built.

Facebook also took some criticism in being a closed / walled garden ie. you couldn't get your highly personalised data out of the Fb platform. People spend time building up their Social Networks, profiles and adding content into the community - this was/is a big concern but is being addressed ...

Facebook have added RSS output for some of the events. For example I've added my Fb friends statuses and friends posts as RSS feed alerts to jaiku. Others Fb feeds are sure to be made available so the above concern is starting to lessen.

Update ... I see Netvibes as of today have also recently launched an iPhone version of their site at ... they're keepin' up.