In iOS 5, what derailed deep Facebook integration?

At its Worldwide Developers Conference last week, Apple talked about deep Twitter integration in iOS 5, but Facebook was conspicuously missing. How come?

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read
iOS 5 comes with Twitter integration.
iOS 5 comes with Twitter integration. Screenshot by Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Twitter is playing a notable role in the upcoming iOS 5, but Facebook isn't. And now, speculation abounds over why that's the case.

Over the weekend, Betanews reporter Joe Wilcox offered up several plausible reasons Facebook didn't earn the same iOS 5 cred as Twitter. He pointed out that the world's largest social network is, in some ways, a competitor to Apple's App Store by encouraging application development on its platform. He also explained that the two companies have very different philosophies on user content: Apple wants to use the cloud to sync it with other devices, while Facebook wants to keep it in the cloud.

Twitter is readily available across iOS 5. Users will be able to tweet photos from the device, as well as sync the social network with their contacts list. YouTube, Safari, and Maps will also feature tweeting integration.

By not offering deep Facebook integration in iOS 5, Apple is a rare company turning its back on the social network. According to Facebook's Web site, it now has over 500 million active users around the globe. That user base has prompted a slew of companies, including set-top box makers, software developers, and Web site operators to integrate Facebook into their respective products. And along the way, Facebook has benefited.

According to the social network, over 250 million people "engage with Facebook on external Web sites." Moreover, about 10,000 sites per day are integrating Facebook.

Though Apple's decision to not follow the crowd with Facebook integration might have something to do with the competitive nature between the companies, it might also have something to do with their shared history.

Last year, when Apple unveiled Ping, its music social network in iTunes, Facebook integration was pulled at the last second. Though Apple never explained the full details of the breakdown between the firms, CEO Steve Jobs said in an interview with AllThingsD that Facebook wanted "onerous terms that we could not agree to."

Following those statements, more details emerged on the disintegration in the partnership between Facebook and Apple. Citing anonymous sources, AllThingsD reported last year that Facebook blocked Apple's access to its application programming interface after the companies couldn't come to an agreement and Apple tried to access it anyway. Though Facebook typically allows for open access to its API, AllThingsD sources said the social network signs deals when a service could have a major impact on its functionality or if accessing user data comes into play.

Now, months later, Facebook still isn't available in Ping (though Twitter integration is), and from time to time, claims pop up that relations are strained between Facebook and Apple. Neither company, however, has confirmed that.

Even so, Steve Jobs has a long history of remembering snubs.

A couple years ago, for example, Apple's formerly strong relationship with Google soured over the search giant's release of Android. Jobs took a not-so-public stand against what he reportedly believed was Google's betrayal by competing against his company's iPhone.

Early last year, Jobs took aim at Google in a town hall meeting with employees, sharing his belief that the search giant's "Don't be evil" slogan is nonsense. He also hinted at his displeasure with Android.

"We did not enter the search business," Jobs said to his employees about Google. "They entered the phone business. Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won't let them."

Whether or not Jobs has that sort of distaste for Facebook is unknown. But something kept deep Facebook integration out of iOS 5. And so far, neither Apple nor Facebook is talking: the companies did not immediately respond to request for comment.