When 2010 was about to end, Facebook had said that the coming year will see a lot of upgrades to its mobile interface. Facebook seemed serious about this proclamation because it has over 250 million users who access the site via their mobile devices, a number which is far greater than even Twitter and LinkedIn’s user base.
The social network is keen on keeping its word. In January this year, Facebook partnered with Snaptu to bring an app for feature phones which gives user a smartphone like experience, and earlier this month came the news that it has acquired the Israeli startup to dish out richer mobile experience to its users.
But the story doesn’t end here. Facebook has now staggered everyone by announcing that it is unifying its mobile websites touch.facebook.com and m.facebook.com into a single interface. Earlier there were two different versions of Facebook’s mobile platform; m.facebook.com, a low bandwidth website designed for feature phones and touch.facebook.com a richer app friendly platform for touch based phones. But due to this, Facebook had to build the same feature multiple times based on different coding.
To avoid that recurring action and to engage itself in more innovative tasks, Facebook has decided to incorporate its multiple versions into one, which is m.facebook.com. Other way of putting it is, the social network is renewing the old version of m.facebook.com so that users with cutting edge touch based mobile devices could experience a smooth interface and similar experience is shared by users with feature phones as well.
This is an impressive move from the the social network as it would be able to provide a better user interface across numerous mobile devices, it will also save ample time and resources to drive forward more captivating features. The most important thing for Facebook was to set the framework right, which will be the same for all devices.
Using the PHP and XML incorporated XHP, Javelin and an open source database for mobile devices called WURFL, Facebook developed a new user interface framework that will use the unique code base but will give customized experience to touchscreen and feature phone users. In simple words, when you now visit m.facebook.com you will be shown the features and designs which are compatible with your phone.
According to me, Facebook’s next step could be to push out richer apps. Unifying the mobile site creates the foundation for future developments of better applications compatible to both smartphones and feature phones — this is where Snaptu will come into play.
What’s your take on the unified site? Have you given it a try?
(Cross-posted from WATBlog)