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At the dawn of a rekindled relationship status, Apple has deeply integrated Facebook into its latest operating system, iOS 6, to be released to consumers later this year.
“We have been working very closely with Facebook to create the best Facebook integration ever in a mobile device,” Apple’s senior vice president of iOS, Scott Forstall, said while demonstrating iOS 6 at the annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) Monday.
Facebook integration, much like Twitter integration in iOS 5, represents a new social layer that will allow device owners to sign in to Facebook once for a socially enriched experience across Photos, Safari, Maps, Contacts, Calendar, Siri, Game Center, Notification Center, and the App Store.
Users can easily share websites, photos, and locations to Facebook with a few clicks (and adjust privacy settings in the process), sync Facebook contacts with their iOS address books, and sync birthdays to their calendars. iOS device owners can also tap to update Facebook (and Twitter) from the Notification Center, and can ask Siri to update their status.
“Your Facebook friends’ information is kept up to date across all your iOS devices, automatically updating details in Contacts when they change, and scheduling events and birthdays in your Calendar,” Apple said in a press release on iOS 6.
The Facebook integration, interestingly enough, even extends to iTunes and the App Store. In iOS 6, the App Store will feature Facebook “like” buttons, and users will be able to see which applications their friends like.
Also worth noting is that Apple is opening up the API and giving third-party developers access to a user’s Facebook log-in credentials so they can add more instantaneous connections to the social network inside their apps. Facebook integration will appear in Mountain Lion on the Mac.
While details of the Facebook integration leaked out prior to today’s WWDC, today’s reveal proves that Facebook and Apple have moved past relationship roadblocks that kept the pair from working together on previous versions of Apple’s operating system. The companies, which butted heads for years, were still sparring as recently as a few months ago, according to VentureBeat sources.
Now, in what seems to be a match made in business heaven, Facebook will benefit from additional exposure and likely increased activity — Twitter’s experienced a remarkable boost in new users and content since getting baked into Apple’s OS — and Apple will fill a gaping social hole in its operating system that could help it standout from Android and Windows Phone.
The beta version of iOS 6 and the SDK are available to developers today. You’ll be able to upgrade to the new OS this fall, when iOS 6 with Facebook integration is released for the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, the new iPad, iPad 2, and iPod touch.