Facebook updates Android, iPhone Mobile: Places, Deals

facebook-mobileUnlike the most of the predictions made about Facebook Phone, Facebook has today made clear how it plans to innovate for the existing platforms rather than re-inventing the wheel.

Facebook is serious about enhancing the Mobile experience for its existing users. As per the reports, 200Million users are active on Facebook Mobile. This is a huge number considering the fact that Facebook has just 500 Million users. Numbers show how important this customer base is, and Facebook anticipates its value.

The social giant is laying stress on the location-based services, a set of new “deals” for maketers & consumers, new stuff for developers:

Here’s a quick Highlights of the things being announced:

Single Sign-On: Ditching the OpenID, Facebook wants to prevail the Facebook’s SSO to login to almost every service on the web, when on mobile. This enables users already signed into Facebook on smartphones to sign in to other sites with a single click – removing the friction where a sign in is required to access the app’s content or functionality. And not to forget, this time Facebook is giving user the control over his privacy. So, how do users login? They will simply be prompted to push a “Login with Facebook” button, rest is done under the hood.

Facebook Places for iPhone & Android: The iPhone, Android app is updated with some new features. On iPhone, places support has been improved, and its newly introduced to Android.

Groups for Mobile: Both iPhone and Android apps will now allows users to access the recently launched Facebook Groups.

Facebook Places API: Facebook is making its local data and activity stream available to third party publishers and developers. This is competitive with the Google Places API.

Facebook Deals: This is arguably the major announcement of the day, with far reaching implications for both users and businesses large and small.

First and foremost Deals provides a reason for “regular people” to use Facebook Places, to get access to deals or rewards as a by-product of checking in. It also provides a way for large and small marketers to reach Facebook’s massive mobile audience on the go. Emily White, Facebook’s Sr. Director of Local, told me that merchants were observing people check in on their Places pages and wanted a way to interact with those Facebook users.

iPhone will fully support this, android will get it later, but for the meantime its available via web interface: touch.facebook.com

How Deals Works

This new concept will launch with 4 types of Deals (including charitable contributions).

  • Individual Deal
  • Friend deal
  • Loyalty deal
  • Charity deal

The most popular of course would be discounts based on check-ins: for instance Gap has started  “Be one of the first 10,000 people to check in at Gap on November 5 receive a free pair of jeans.”

Here is a sample from the page to create a new Deal:

facebook-deals

It’s easy to create one, and this will act as a magnet for the millions of small businesses that will undoubtedly be interested in this offering.

How does it work on Phones? Users can access deals by simply looking at the map or list of nearby businesses.

Here’s how it looks on the iPhone:

facebook-deals-iphone

Businesses with deals will be “tagged” with yellow coupon markers (image on the far left). Users then pull up the Place Page and “get the deal” by clicking on a button. At the point of sale the user shows the coupon on the screen to the relevant person at checkout (though there could be some friction there).

For years developers have been building portals that offers deals, coupons, discounts for certain regions, but of course none of them had this appeal & such a huge audience. Deals will be a big hit with both consumers and marketers, whether large or small, would love it.

Coupons is the next big deal for every mobile user.

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