Facebook overhauls SDK for Android, unveils new developer center

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Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) released a major upgrade of its software development kit for Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system, also introducing a new Android Dev Center incorporating tools and resources for building social applications.

Facebook SDK Android

Facebook introduces two new UI controls: Friend Picker (left), Login UI

Dubbed "the biggest overhaul of our Android SDK so far" by Facebook engineer Michael Marucheck, the Facebook SDK 3.0 beta includes a host of new native UI controls highlighted by pre-built Fragments and Views for common tasks, with built-in caching and on-demand loading to make these controls more efficient and responsive than Web dialogs. The SDK also touts a Friend Picker enabling consumers to tag friends in an Open Graph action or find other people who installed the Android app in question, as well as a Places Picker that identifies nearby sites with customizable locations. Also new: Profile Picture controls that show a profile picture for any Facebook object and login controls to simplify management of user identity and app permissions.

"This release includes several tools that simplify authentication and authorization, including a Fragment and a Button that manages login state automatically," Marucheck notes. "Login state is cached in SharedPreferences by default. You can serialize sessions to support low memory scenarios; an optional Activity base class makes this automatic. The modular design handles details you don't care about while giving you more control when you need it."

Android developers can also batch SDK requests for Facebook API calls, translating to accelerated access times for parallel API requests. "Callbacks and listeners are factored in to better support MVC-style programming," Marucheck explains. "Facebook JSON data can be manipulated with strongly-typed interfaces to reduce coding errors and simplify reading and writing to Facebook."

The Facebook SDK 3.0 for Android additionally brings new mobile app install ad measurement features. Mobile install ads target consumers based on the apps and games they already access on their smartphones--developers select their intended audience demographic, budget and method of payment, and Facebook inserts ads for their apps directly into targeted users' mobile news feeds. Facebook opened the mobile app install ads program to all developer partners this week after two months of beta testing.

The Android Dev Center is designed to help developers understand the creation of third-party Facebook apps. Content includes a Getting Started guide, a tutorial that walks programmers through the Facebook integration process, basics for building and growing apps and reference documentation including sample code.

Facebook launched a similarly overhauled SDK for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS late last month, adding support for the platform's deep integration into the newly revamped Apple operating system.

More than 1 billion people worldwide now use Facebook actively each month, doubling from 500,000 in July 2010. Six hundred million of those users access the social networking platform via mobile device.

For more:
- read this Facebook Developer Blog entry

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