Facebook Connect expands iPhone app social networking

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Over the weekend Facebook revealed Facebook Connect for iPhone, a new technology that lets iPhone application developers connect their apps to the popular social networking Web site.

Facebook is the popular social networking site that plays host to Web pages, discussion boards, groups of people with like minded interests, and lots of other content.

Already, Facebook users can log in to their accounts using the free Facebook iPhone application, but FaceBook Connect fills a different need—serving as the glue to let other applications exchange information as part of a vast social network.

Increasingly, the company is providing ways for other applications and Web sites to connect to Facebook. Already, many other Web sites offer ways of embedding their own content onto users' Facebook pages; now iPhone apps can exchange data through Facebook, as well, thanks to the Facebook Connect Software Development Kit (SDK).

The Facebook Connect SDK provides the code to let third-party developers embed hooks into their applications so users can connect to their Facebook accounts and exchange information using iPhone apps. It's a way of embedding "social context" to an iPhone app, according to Facebook. The SDK is provided as a library for use in Cocoa, the software development platform iPhone application developers use to make their apps.

Users have control over how permissions to access content are granted, how identity is revealed and shared, and what information is to be shared with friends.

Practical examples of Facebook Connect iPhone apps are already in the wild. Urbanspoon, is one such example. A free restaurant review application, Urbanspoon has been updated with Facebook connectivity, enabling Urbanspoon users to post votes, reviews and photos on their Facebook news feeds.

Another example is Playfish's Who Has the Biggest Brain? It started life as a Facebook game—where it's still available—but was released last week as an iPhone and iPod touch game. The "brain training game" lets you compare scores with friends using Facebook Connect.

Game developers have been prime early adopters of Facebook Connect, as indicated by a recent blog posting from Joe Hewitt, the same engineer who developed the iPhone Facebook application.

Games that feature Facebook Connect support include Agency Wars, a new game from SGN in which you combine real-world GPS coordinates with a plot involving secret agents, spies and subterfuge as you try to "assassinate" other players and iBowl, their Wii-style bowling game; Say Eight's Binary Game, which has been updated to use Facebook Connect for online score sharing; Zynga's Live Poker and Tapulous' Tap Tap Revenge 2, the sequel to their massive rhythm dance game hit for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Hewitt indicates that other iPhone and iPod touch applications will be adding Facebook Connect support in the coming days.

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