Guest Blogger: Matt Dickman
Matt offers up a press release from the near future...
San Francisco, CA - Earlier today Facebook released their much anticipated new mobile operating system (OS). The OS will run on any phone from the major US carriers including handsets currently running Palm and Windows.
The difference with this OS is that the entire phone works as part of the Facebook network. The connectivity options of the device (WiFi, GPS, 3G) all connect it to the platform and to other Facebook-enabled devices. Here is a rundown of how this works.
- Centralized contacts - One of the biggest challenges for years has been keeping contacts updated and centralized. Facebook mobile allows users to pull in multiple contact sources from different social networks and applications. Users can upload files from Outlook or sync with LinkedIn. Each application that follows leverages this repository for contact data.
- WiFi/3G - The device is “always on” and automatically toggles between WiFi and 3G networks to offer the quickest, most stable connection. The connectivity allows for messaging, web browsing, GPS tracking and supports connectivity to Facebook’s main platform.
- GPS - The phone’s GPS receiver connects to Facebook and allows users to find friends when they are nearby. Users can set up proximity alerts and be notified when a friend is close by. Location is automatically fed into search and mapping systems as a shorcut to make things local. The GPS unit also allows for voice-guided turn-by-turn directions when in the car. On the marketing side, GPS allows for targeted advertising to be directed to users on an opt-in only basis.
- Camera - the camera in the device is automatically synchronized with Facebook’s photo sharing account, which allows publishing to other photo systems like Flickr. As soon as an image is taken, tagged and approved it is uploaded to the site along with geo location data from the GPS unit.
- Video - Video, like photos, is synchronized to Facebook and then published to other video sharing sites as defined by the user. Once video is captured it is tagged and edited then uploaded to the site along with geo location data.
- Photo/Video alerts - photos and videos from friends are automatically downloaded to the user’s device once published. Downloads happen in the background when the device is inactive. Users can reply to videos with videos of their own.
- Video conferencing - All users with video cameras can initiate video conferencing with one or more parties. Audio-only users can be dialed in to participate in the absence of video.
- Instant messenger - Facebook mobile supports all popular IM clients including Jabber, MSN, ICQ, AOL and Facebook’s own client. Users cross network seamlessly and can share files and initiate voice and video conferencing from the IM client itself.
- Email - The Facebook mobile email client integrated with all popular POP services (AOL, Yahoo, MSN, GMail, etc.) as well as with IM. Users who are active on the IM client are highlighted in email to enable real-time chats. Voice and video messaging can be initialized from email with one click.
- Presence applications - On top of Facebook’s own status updates, this mobile OS supports Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku and other presence apps are coming on line soon. These tie together into one interface with video, photos and copy.
- SMS - SMS is supported, but most users have moved to IM for real-time chatting. SMS is used for alerting and other one-time contact options.
- Browsing - The web browser in Facebook mobile is powered by Firefox’s mini browser. After years on the sideline, Firefox has come up with a small, quick browser that syncs with its desktop partner to transfer bookmarks, RSS feeds, passwords and browsing history.
This revolutionary platform embodies the true mobile, social web. Developers can easily leverage the assets (GPS, 3G, IM, etc.) to build powerful applications that move with the user and connect them to their contacts when on the go.
So this is what I hope will happen with the mobile social web. It has potential. I already see some companies moving their devices in this direction, but only a truly integrated system will provide the best benefit to the users. Mobile in the US is clunky and slow compared to the rest of the world, but that’s changing. Once technology companies understand that the value of mobile is the content that’s created by the people that use the devices we’ll see more changes like the iPhone.