Facebook overhauls SDK for Apple's iOS

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Facebook released an updated version of its software development kit for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS mobile operating system, introducing a series of new features designed to simplify the creation of Facebook-integrated apps for the iPhone and iPad.

"The new features make the SDK a natural extension of Apple's iOS environment and make your development cycle more efficient by eliminating the need to develop and manage common tasks," writes Facebook engineer Jason Clark. Additions include FBSession, which manages, stores and refreshes user tokens with default behaviors developers can override, along with a variety of pre-built user interface components for common functions like FBProfilePictureView (which displays a user's profile photo), FBPlacePickerViewController (enabling users to query the Facebook Places database to find nearby options and check in) and FBFriendPickerViewController (allowing users to easily select friends, complete with support for filtering by device type and application authorization status).

Facebook SDK 3.0 Beta also boasts Modern Objective-C language features support. "With Automatic Reference Counting, you no longer have to spend as much time on memory management," Clark explains. "Support for blocks means that it's now more straightforward to handle sessions and calls to asynchronous Facebook APIs. This, along with inclusion of key language features like idiomatic API naming and KVO, allows [developers] to transition seamlessly between the Facebook SDK and Apple's iOS environment." The SDK also supports batching for SDK requests to significantly improve latency for Facebook API calls, translating to faster access times for API requests.

In conjunction with the revamped SDK, Facebook is rolling out a new iOS Developer Center including key tools and resources. Content includes tutorials for building Facebook-integrated iOS apps, reference documentation and sample code.

The new Facebook SDK is available for download here and is fully backwards compatible with the social networking giant's previous SDK for iOS. "After iOS 6 launches to users, the SDK will automatically use the native Facebook Login in iOS 6 when available," Clark states. "Just enable Login with Facebook and the SDK will ensure your apps work seamlessly on all iOS versions 4.0 and later. The SDK will continue to support the iOS 6 integration in beta until Apple's user launch later this fall."

Apple unveiled iOS 6 last month, adding deep integration with the Facebook platform. "We have been working very closely with Facebook to create the best Facebook integration ever in a mobile device," said Apple Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall during the company's annual Worldwide Developer Conference, promising a series of user-friendly features including single sign-in across all Facebook-enabled iOS apps as well as sharing from Photos, Safari and Maps. Apple also will integrate Facebook into iTunes and the App Store, enabling consumers to "like" apps, music, TV and movies and also browse friends' recommendations.

iOS 6's Facebook integration mirrors Apple's efforts to incorporate Twitter access across iOS 5, introduced in October 2011. iOS 5 allows users to sign in once and then tweet directly from all Twitter-enabled apps--among them Photos, Camera, Safari, YouTube and Maps--with a single tap. Twitter signups tripled after iOS 5's release--Forstall said iOS 5 users are now responsible for 10 billion tweets, with 47 percent of photos posted to Twitter originating from devices running iOS 5.

For more:
- read this Facebook Developer Blog entry

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