There has always been a little bit of conflict between Apple and Facebook, a wary relationship if you will, maybe more so from the point of view of Apple. Both have risen to become monolithic in their respective kingdoms, while there is clear demand from consumers for cross-integration between them. Facebook emerged as our way to communicate with long-lost friends and stay up to date with our close buddies and has certainly changed our social lives in the space of a few years. Apple’s iPhone has taken the mobile communications world by storm and transformed a humble cell phone into a real communications tool.
One of the criticisms leveled at Apple has been the device’s lack of ability to allow multiple application functionality "in the background" or at the same time. Apple is very selective about the apps that it allows to work on its iPhone and may not necessarily approve an application if it could be classified as "competitive." Apple applications (the word could have been invented just for the company’s marketing efforts, couldn’t it?) are designed to run strictly within the confines of its device.
Facebook’s application is absolutely perfect for the iPhone. Indeed, it is one of the most popular applications and there are now more than 100,000 of them, with consumers generally lauding the design and construction of the app. Facebook has been working hard to update its application for iPhone and has just come out with version 3.1.1, right after the new year. Now, notifications from Facebook are "pushed" directly to your iPhone and you can even sync the photos on your iPhone with the photos within your Facebook account.
How far will the relationship between Facebook and Apple progress and will you be allowed to run Facebook apps on your iPhone? Traditionally, apps that are available from within another app’s marketplace would basically copy the iPhone application store and this could be problematic indeed for Apple.
Facebook has been promising push notification support for its iPhone application for some time, dating back maybe six months. Its arrival can be classified as a big step forward for Facebook and indeed for Apple, as the latter company can surely see the value of satisfying Facebook mania from within its own device. The push notification can be enabled now when you open the Facebook app. You’ll see the text box notifying you about the changes and you will be asked whether you want to enable push notification or not? Immediately thereafter you will be asked whether you want to sync your contacts with your address book. This is a great feature and if you select it, the app will scour your iPhone contact/phonebook and match up the names and/or phone numbers to the details contained within your Facebook friends list. You can opt to replace the photos in your iPhone contact/phonebook with your friends’ Facebook profile pics. Once syncing is complete, your iPhone contact list will now also contain a direct link to each Facebook profile page. You can simply touch this on your iPhone screen and it will open your friend’s Facebook profile.
Push notification basically means that whenever somebody sends you a message on Facebook – when they post to your wall, request you become their friend, confirm that they will become your friend, tag you in a photo or a video, invite you to an event or add a comment – the pop-up will appear on your iPhone together with a sound notifying you what has happened. If you have a huge circle of friends and are very active on Facebook, you might want to be selective above these notifications. Go into your settings app on the iPhone, scroll down until you come to Facebook, touch this and then touch "push notifications." You will then be presented with all your options — messages, wall posts, etc. and can simply turn these on or off.
Now you have a way of keeping in touch right up to the very second with what’s going on in your social life. As we have said, Apple does not allow your Facebook app to run "in the background" of your iPhone on an ongoing basis and as such, these push notifications have been long awaited. You don’t feel under pressure to log into your Facebook app to keep up to date anymore.
What do you think of this latest major update to Facebook for iPhone?