updated 10:25 pm EDT, Wed April 20, 2011
Code clues suggest more cooperation was planned
An investigation into the inner workings of earlier releases of iOS 4 reveal that Apple and Facebook -- who were working together on Ping at the time -- were originally planning more Facebook integration into iOS than eventually happened, 9to5Mac reports. Had the Ping talks, which went on for 18 months, been fruitful, iOS users might have also had further photo, contact and sync integration with the social networking service than presently exists.
Ping launched with iTunes 10 in September of 2010 and very briefly featured Facebook integration, but the feature was quickly pulled after Facebook protested that the rush of Ping subscribers would overwhelm their system and demanded what Apple CEO Steve Jobs later called "onerous terms" to allow the integration to proceed. The two companies do continue to work together, for example the Facebook integration in iPhoto and what looks to be further social-networking features planned for iOS 5 that were discovered in iOS 4.3 code. But code fragments seen in "prototype" versions of iOS 4 indicated that Apple had planned a system-wide log-in to Facebook that would allow integration with a variety of services, for example direct video uploading and contact integration.
Despite public meetings between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Jobs and optimism from Facebook executives of an eventual agreement, the Ping dispute has thus far not been resolved and the iTunes-based social service never fully recovered, even though Twitter integration and other popular features were added later. Facebook could still be part of future iOS or other service updates in the future, as the service has shown no signs of falling in popularity the way MySpace and other social services have.
Apple have allegedly been working on a Photo Stream type feature that would allow approved friends to "subscribe" automatically to a user's picture feed via a social service, as well as a "Media Stream" that may include more than just pictures, which some have speculated may be intended to compete with services like Facebook, but are more likely intended simply to make social sharing (with or without Facebook integration) easier. [via 9to5Mac]