updated 10:00 pm EDT, Fri June 1, 2012
Integration may replace fast-switch sign-in?
After tantalizingly suggestive remarks by Tim Cook during his D10 keynote interview, like "Facebook is a great company," "the relationship is solid," and "stay tuned" when directly asked about Facebook integration by the interviewers, TechCrunch is postulating that Apple is aiming for as tight as possible Facebook integration with the yet-unreleased iOS 6. Writer MG Seigler points out that a great many applications use Facebook APIs for signing up and authentication. Facebook is the primary, or in some cases only, method of confirming user's identity on some sites.
Facebook benefits from the relationship as well. Current authentication relies on a multitasking switch to the Facebook sign in to authorize posting and viewing permissions. After login, the user is shunted back to the original application. Full OS integration would prevent this method of sign-on, and allow developers tighter utility of the sign-in process, without switching over to another application, in a similar fashion to how the Twitter application handles this same process.
Facebook's new permissions, however, are much more complicated than Twitter's. The current method has various levels of permissions, and this being adequately conveyed to the user is crucial to this effort. Open Graph or auto-sharing, if implemented, would potentially add more complexity to an already complicated situation for an on the go user.
Seigler guesses that "Apple will keep things simple with at least the initial Facebook/iOS integration." He suspects that there will likely be a Facebook button in the already-extant share screen which will push content to the user's Facebook wall. OSX Mountain Lion support isn't expected, at least at first.
Hooks for Facebook integration existed in iOS version 4 beta releases before being removed just before final distribution. Signs pointed to close Facebook ties in iTunes' Ping, as well, but nothing universal ever materialized with some users being able to initially connect, and some not. Steve Jobs famously decried Facebook as having "onerous terms that we could not agree to" when trying to get Facebook's cooperation with Ping, likely referring to the sharing of user data with the social giant.