On this edition of the Mobile Minute, we discuss how recent breaking changes to Facebook’s API are impacting mobile developers who have built or are building mobile apps that depend upon Facebook user data.

How will this impact your app? Well, it depends on whether your apps leverage social APIs like Facebook or not. If they do, then this is something to watch out for!


Will: Hi everyone Will and Nate from Dropsource here.

Will: Welcome to the Mobile Minute where we give you some quick highlights of the trends and tips for mobile app developers.

Will: Nate we’ve got you here today to talk about some changes to the Facebook API and how this is affecting mobile developers like us and could be affecting others. Give us a brief overview – what’s changed with the Facebook API?

Nate: Sure. So as a lot of people probably know by now, Facebook has come under a lot of scrutiny and a lot of criticism about how they handle user data and user privacy. So as a result, the Facebook team has responded by really locking down and implementing a lot of breaking changes for their public API.

Nate: So this is affecting how app developers can access user information.

Will: This is something that we actually encountered viscerally, recently on a client project. Tell us a little bit about that.

Nate: Sure. So during the design and requirements phase of a project we’re working on now, a client came out with a lot of features that very closely tied to Facebook. Things like Facebook Login, things like deep linking user profiles from their app to the Facebook app.

Nate: These are all features we’ve seen in the past and have implemented. And so we came in thinking they were pretty low risk only to turn out that Facebook has changed a lot of these protocols and it’s made us have to really rethink some of our initial designs.

Will: Can you give everybody one example of a feature which used to be possible, which no longer is today?

Nate: Sure. So in the past when you log into Facebook, there was a direct connection between your Facebook app user and the native iOS and Android apps.

Nate: For Facebook, you could do things like sending friend requests and sharing content, opening profiles. Now that connection no longer exists. And so a lot of the features we’ve taken for granted can no longer be implemented and we have to really rethink how we go about interacting with social apps.

Will: So at the end of the day, what do you recommend for mobile developers as they think forward to what they’re going to do with their Facebook connected apps or future apps?

Nate: Yeah. I think we all realize the power and the impact that social apps have on the user experiences we can build. But from a developer’s perspective, these present a lot of risks for long term maintenance, especially if we are tying some of our core app features to these social APIs. It just really opens us up for changes that we have to account for in the future.

Nate: And so going forward, we’re going to be a lot more careful about what we recommend to clients and what we do internally regarding Social APIs

Will: All right. Good stuff.

Will: All right, that’s all we have time for today.

Will: Thanks for joining us and we’ll see you again next time on the Mobile Minute.