Facebook's iPhone app getting a complete, natively-coded, totally re-designed update is once again in the news today, though this time with the names of some former Apple talent behind it. Bloomberg says the people involved in the update include:
Greg Novick, who helped develop the touch-screen user interface; Tim Omernick and Chris Tremblay, who also worked on the device’s software; and Scott Goodson, who helped create the stock-market application, according to people with knowledge of the hires.
Last year, Facebook also bought Push Pop Press, a digital publishing software maker co-founded by Apple alumni Mike Matas and Kimon Tsinteris, two designers who helped build the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad software. Matas is credited with creating the battery logo that shows on the iPhone screen when it’s charging. A longtime BlackBerry user, Mark Zuckerberg converted to an iPhone in the past couple of years.
An intermediate release is said to be coming in a few months, with a bigger redesign in the wings for 2013. Which is good, because while Facebook for iPhone is one of the most popular apps in the history of the platform, it's also been one consistently buggy and, frankly, not a great experience. Getting some former Apple talent behind it is a good thing. These folks have shown they know how to make great looking, great working apps.
Facebook, like Google, gets the web but they don't get mobile. Indie developers continue to code circles around these big companies, but finally the big companies have gotten smart enough to simply buy up the great indie developers. It's why Facebook bought and hired the developers mentioned above, it's why they bought Instagram, and it's why they're almost certainly not done yet.
Mobile is the future. Facebook knows it. Let's hope the next version of Facebook for iPhone shows it.
Oh, and Bloomberg repeats the rumor of Facebook teaming up with HTC to make a Facebook phone with deep social integration. Wasn't a surprise when it was first rumored years ago, isn't a surprise now. If you don't own a platform, you're at the mercy of those who do. It's why Google bought Android back in the Windows Mobile days, and why every company with pockets deep enough to try is working on a phone now.
Only question is, how many can the market support, and which ones will they rally behind? Apple and Google? Facebook and Amazon? Microsoft and BlackBerry?