Friday, September 21, 2012

Facebook Contacts & Events On iPhone

After providing my feedback on Apple's new Maps app yesterday, I wanted to take the opportunity to praise a different feature: Facebook Contacts and Calendar on iPhone.

When I logged into Facebook, I was prompted with... nothing. Strange. So I headed to Settings where, sure enough, there was a Facebook option. After giving my email/password I had three options to use with my account. I'm sure that list will build over time as more apps take advantage of Facebook. For now, I'd like to focus on two: Contacts and Calendars.


When Facebook managed this feature within their app, you had to be really careful because it could replace your entire contact list. But this time they got it right. Turn it on and it will only match your existing contacts with Facebook profiles. It fills in any missing information which is pretty cool.

But then I scrolled to the bottom of one card (pictured above), and what I found was a section called "Linked Contacts". Tapping on that revealed that I was actually looking at a combined view of the existing contact information (I use Google Sync/Exchange), and Facebook. So the app didn't re-write any existing data at all, it only layered information on top. Very cool.

I also noticed, when I checked out my groups that all of my Facebook friends are on my phone, they're just not selected. The app is smart enough to combine/show info for only contacts I want to see. If I wanted to see everyone, I would just select it. Double cool.


I also chose to link Facebook with my calendar. I use Google Sync/Exchange for my calendar. Again, all the app does it layer Facebook information on top. By default it shows Birthdays and Events. By taping on "Calendars" within the app you can easily deselect which ones are shown. I'll definitely keep the Birthday one and probably hide events since if I'm really going I'll put in on my Google Calendar.

So, it looks like the Maps app has some room for improvement, but I really like the way Apple integrated Facebook into these two core apps. The only place I'd like a little improvement, would be to actually add the data to my existing contact information. That way when I use Google Contacts on other devices, all the information is there. I'm sure there's some sort of privacy/data sharing issues that would need to be resolved first, but one can hope!

Good job Apple and Facebook!

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