Facebook’s Developer Conference Next Month Could Bring Launch of Mobile HTML5 Platform
Facebook this morning announced that it will hold 2011′s f8 developer conference on September 22nd in San Francisco. It will feature keynotes, networking, breakout sessions, and an after party. Facebook is now distributing invitations to developers, partners, and press, and those who don’t receive invitations can register to buy tickets here or watch a livestream of the whole event at f8.facebook.com.
While specifics about the conference’s agenda are sparse, we expect Facebook to launch several products about which information has leaked over the past few months, which we detail below. These include its HTML5 mobile gaming platform, the official Facebook for iPad app, and its music dashboard. Improvements to its mobile photo offering may also be launched, either in the form of new standalone apps or as additional features to its primary mobile apps.
The company explains that f8 “is your opportunity to learn about our new products and understand how to get the best out of your existing social apps and web sites. Best of all, you get to hear directly from the Facebook engineers who build these products, and interact with developers from around the world.”
Several major product were launched at Facebook’s last f8 in April 2010, including the Like button, social plugins, the Graph API, and Instant Personalization. Developers will likely be eager to attend the 2011 f8 to hear about new opportunities to create social apps and websites.
The conference will be held at San Francisco’s Concourse Design Center. Amongst “a day filled with new product announcements”, there will also be a Q&A with Facebook’s engineering and product teams, and strategy sessions detailing best practices for developing apps and experiences that utilize Facebook data.
There will likely be some big surprise announcements at f8, particularly around new developer tools that expand access to Facebook data, but here are details on the products we do expect to launch:
HTML 5 Mobile Gaming Platform aka Project Spartan
Facebook has been building an HTML5 version of m.facebook.com that will be capable of running applications through mobile browsers. Around 80 third-party developers including Zynga and The Huffington Post are reportedly preparing apps for the platform. It will permit Facebook to expand its Facebook Credits virtual currency to mobile, allowing it to make money on mobile purchases of virtual goods by sidestepping Apple’s App Store and the Android Marketplace.
Expect details of the HTML5 platform to be released and third-party developers to present their new apps at f8.
Official Facebook for iPad App
To date, Facebook has opted not to release an official iPad app, leaving third-parties to create tablet-optimized editions of the service. A working version of the app was leaked in July, though, so it appears that Facebook for iPad will be ready for launch at f8.
If the design stays similar to what we saw in the leak, the iPad app will feature multi-pane navigation to contrast with the grid view home screen of the iPhone app. Users will be able to simultaneously Chat with friends and browse the service. It may also tie directly into the HTML5 mobile platform, allowing games to be played within the app.
Facebook has been reportedly established partnerships with several online music services that it could aggregate into a music dashboard accessible from the home page. Spotify will likely be involved, as could Pandora, Last.fm, Rdio, Mog, or Grooveshark. It may let users stream music, view what their friends are listening to, and possibly purchase subscriptions to premium music services with Facebook Credits.
The music dashboard and its related partnerships could be unveiled at f8, bringing users a unified, native music experience on Facebook.
Mobile Photos Enhancements
In June, documentation was leaked showing a prototype of a new mobile photos app. At f8 Facebook could launch the new features as the second standalone native app following Messenger, or as enhancements to the primary mobile apps such as Facebook for iPhone. The app appears to offer a photo feed, multi-shot uploads, support for video, Instagram-like filters, and the ability to tag a Place or Event where photos were taken.