Facebook Updates Android App, Zynga Joining the Poker Party

November 4, 2010 - Written By Maddi Hausmann Sojourner

Facebook made several announcements at their mobile media event of interest to Android fans.

First and most important, the Facebook app has been updated.  New to Facebook’s Android app are the Places and Groups options.  Places lets you check into a location, which sounds like they’re competing with a company that rhymes with “poor ware.”  Groups let you create lists of Friends so you can all interact, share things, and the like. I found the mobile version of Groups worked better once I actually created a Group on the web version of Facebook.  No creating them on your mobile, though.

Notifications have been improved, because now you can read comments and like an item without the app taking you to the web version of Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, explained why the Android version of Facebook for mobile has noticeably lagged the iPhone version.  You see, Facebook didn’t have a dedicated team in place to create the Android  app, so they outsourced it to a development shop (one developer in the shop), and Google bought the firm out.  “It was kind of frustrating,” observed Zuckerberg.

“We’re back on track, we think we have general parity between iPhone,” said Zuckerberg.  But needless to say, version 1.4.0 of Facebook for Android still doesn’t have chat.

Second, Facebook will ensuring you’ll never avoid the Friendly blue and white logo.  With their new Single Sign-In feature, by logging into Facebook on your mobile you won’t have to keep entering your username and password on multiple apps and sites.  This is part of what Facebook’s mobile platform team’s head, Erick Tseng, calls “a true horizontal platform.”

Luke Shepard of Facebook explained Single Sign-In in a comment on TechCrunch:

You’re totally right – this is basically the same way that Facebook Connect has always behaved on the web. But because iPhone apps and Android apps are not websites but have their own crazy rules, it’s been much harder to do the same thing, and up until now every user had to enter their password for each app. We’ve just worked around that to bring the same web-like experience to the phones.

And yes, the dialog is the same as the one that users see on the web, just formatted to fit the phone.

Implementing the sign-in only takes a few lines of code, according to Tseng.

Zynga, the game developer who brought Mafia Wars and Farmville to Facebook, will be one of the first partners to embrace Single Sign-In for mobile platforms.  They’ll be bringing a poker app to Android, and more games are on the way for little green robots.  No, there’s no word on whether you’ll eventually tend your farm on your Fascinate.

Groupon also presented at the event, and other partners embracing Single Sign-In include Yelp, Loopt, Flixster, Booyah, and SCVNGR.

Finally, there will be Facebook Deals, accessible from Places and allowing businesses to give you an incentive to patronize them.  Better yet, they’ll give you incentives to invite and bring your Friends.  22 partners are already on board.

Which of these developments are you most interested in?

Image: TechCrunch