Dev

Facebook launches a boatload of new features for apps

Facebook is now letting users do most of the things they’d do from a status update, like uploading photos or including locations or tagging people, from just about any non-Facebook app.

Starting today, your apps can add location and friends as properties to any update, photo, or link. To accomplish this feat, the social network has rolled out a whole herd of new APIs and documentation. You have your location-setting API, your friend-tagging API, your improved places search API, and your location-reading API.

“It’s going to allows consumers who are using third-party apps to have a richer and deeper experience with third-party apps,” said Gowalla founder and current Facebooker Josh Williams.

“Now, content that’s coming in from an application can have the same sort of feature-richness on a user’s Timeline that something posted natively would have.”

Williams continued that the new APIs will be saving developers a lot of time. “It’s stuff that devs spend a lot of time building out from scratch.”

Also, he noted, some of the functionality announced today is entirely new, stuff that devs couldn’t do with any amount of time or effort. “Previously [at Facebook], there was this idea of checking in,” Williams explained. “There was a traditional checkin product that Facebook built originally, but that was deprecated to allow adding location to any post. That API has never been available before.”

So, instead of just checking into the places they’re at right now, users can put a lot more meaning and nuance into locations — where they’ve been, where they want to go, where life events happened, and more.

“In the context of a Timeline maps view, you can show, for example, the countries you’ve visited in the past,” said Williams. “I’m excited about the things we’ll see on the Timeline map, i think this will open up new channels for creativity.”

Apps can set location for Open Graph actions and objects or with stream publish stories; friends can be tagged with Open Graph actions or with stream publish stories. Place search now includes optional latitude, longitude, and distance parameters and support for finding posts from friends around a place. And location-reading uses the FQL table location_post.

You’ll also get APIs for larger photo display and inline video playback.

“Speaking as a recent third-party developer myself, we were really excited about taking all this content we were creating and seeing it visualized in this consistent, permanent space,” said Williams of developing for Timeline.

“There are all kinds of niches where Facebook is never going to go, but people really want to see that information represented in the kind of holistic journal that Timeline is… it’s beyond the scope of what we are building internally.”

Image courtesy of pressureUA, Shutterstock

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