Facebook Mobile Apps Refreshed For iPhone And Android

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New smartphone apps from Facebook add single sign-on to iPhones and Androids, along with Deals for the iPhone

Facebook rolled out single sign-on (SSO) and other features geared to improve information sharing on Apple iPhone and Google Android smartphones for the social network’s 200 million mobile users.

The company also unveiled Facebook Deals to let users of its Places service get discounts from local businesses when they check into them from the iPhone.

Single Sign-On

Facebook SSO for Android phones or any iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch provides users a big, time-saving perk, said Erick Tseng, head of mobile products at Facebook, at the launch.

Users logged into Facebook can easily log into applications that support SSO with a single click without typing in a user name and password every time they want to access the app. This saves a lot of aggravation for users, which ultimately means they will be more likely to engage with mobile commerce opportunities from Facebook and its partners, he said.

Facebook SSO is available today on Android apps such as Groupon, Loopt, SCVNGR, Yelp, Flixster and Zynga Poker, with SSO for iPhone apps available soon.

Places And Groups

Facebook’s new Android 1.4 app now supports Facebook Places, allowing users to check into restaurants, businesses and other locations from their handset. It also supports Facebook Groups, which lets users send private messages to small groups of friends from an Android phone.

The Facebook for iPhone 3.3 app also supports Groups, along with a new composer to improve checking in and photo taking. The app has been updated to include a starred friends list so users do not need to scroll up and down to find their contacts on their iPhone.

Facebook Deals

Facebook Deals meanwhile launched for US users on the new Facebook for iPhone 3.3 application, with plans to roll out to Android later.

IPhone users can already use Facebook Places to share their location with friends but, with the iPhone 3.3 app, users can leverage Facebook Deals to find nearby offers from restaurants and retailers. To find these deals, users must go to touch.facebook.com, or the latest version of Facebook for iPhone, touch “Places” and then “Check In”. Nearby businesses with deals on offer have a yellow icon, as shown in these screenshots.

IPhone users can view the deal and check in to claim it, then show their phone to the cashier to get the gift or discount. Deals will vary from merchant to merchant and will include individual discounts; “friend deals” where users can claim  offers together; “loyalty deals” for frequent visitors to a place; and “charity deals” where businesses pledge to donate to a cause when users check in.

Current participating businesses in Deals include American Eagle Outfitters, which is offering 20 percent off merchandise; Gap, which will offer free jeans to the first 10,000 customers to claim their deal; and Starbuck’s, which will donate $1 per check-in to Conservation International.

Facebook Deals threatens the money-making strategies of services such as Foursquare and Gowalla that have long been offering deals and coupons to people who check-in to businesses.

Without Deals, few Facebook users had the incentive to use Facebook Places instead of Foursquare, which has four million users, most of whom are already Facebook users.

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