Facebook will be available for Ubuntu Touch, Canonical has announced. But not in the way most users will expect…
Facebook is the most visited website on the planet1; it’s the largest social network, and ranks as one of the top app downloads on virtually all mobile platforms where it’s available.
The argument for ensuring that there’s some sort of ‘app’ for it in Ubuntu Touch is clear.
But when you’re a mobile OS yet to release your first phone or prove viable market share, you can’t count on being blessed with an ‘official‘ app from a site like Facebook.
So, in true Linux spirit, you work with what you’ve got…
Facebook for Ubuntu Touch
Each release of Ubuntu since 12.10 has shipped with ‘Unity Web Apps‘ – a feature that allows a number of websites to ‘hook in’ to the desktop to deliver updates and notifications, give access to music controls, etc.
A community-crafted Facebook ‘app’ for Ubuntu Touch will do something similar. It takes the regular Facebook mobile site and integrates it with various features of the Touch interface.
You’ll be able to install, open, close and uninstall it like a native app; see messages and notifications in the Messaging Menu; and share photos, etc. without needing to open the app. And you won’t even need to log in if you have Facebook set up in Ubuntu Online Accounts.
‘Hybrid Web Apps‘ have precedence in mobile operating systems. Mozilla has taken a similar route with Firefox OS; the majority of their “apps” are nothing more than glorified website bookmarks that are able to deliver notifications and alerts through the notification centre.
Short of persuading Facebook to license their brand to a 3rd party app, or put the investment into a truly native app, a mobile-web app hybrid is going to be the best solution for Ubuntu mobile and, most importantly, its users.