Facebook Connect, the company's fast-growing identity service, has been dramatically revamped for the iPhone and has apparently experienced some significant down-time as well. That's bad news for apps that depend on it for their users to identify themselves.
The new login interface no longer contains any of the previously displayed information about what Facebook Connect means, the button to opt-out of staying logged in, the link to the Terms of Service nor the button labeled "cancel" to back out of logging in. It also removed the word Connect altogether.
Facebook replied by email and we've updated the post below with their comment.
Photo from Punch Kick Interactive
Nevermind the Details - Here's Your Login
Dramatically simplifying the login interface is an interesting design decision and one that Facebook hasn't yet replied to our inquiry about. For all the trouble Facebook gets in concerning user data and identity, the company appears to have decided to just remove all complexity from what it presents to the users.
"Connect [Application Name] with Facebook to interact with your friends in this app and to share stories on Facebook," it used to say. Now it just says "Log in to use your Facebook account with [Application Name]."
Facebook Connect is complicated: the way it shares approved information from your account and your friends' accounts with 3rd party applications, then allows those applications (sometimes) to post links to the Newsfeeds of your friends is not intuitive for people most familiar with a simpler, broadcast-based media world. Passwords and logging in are familiar, though.
The new login screen is certainly much easier on the eyes and brain - but is it a good idea to further obfuscate everything the user is granting an app permission to do? It would be good to see one more link added to the interface: an option to view all the complicated details that were removed in this redesign, and more.
Meanwhile, Connect itself has been down for at least some mobile apps for as long as 24 hours. That's no small matter for thousands of 3rd party mobile applications.
"Facebook Connect is becoming a defacto login/signup," Alex Iskold, CEO of entertainment check-in app GetGlue told us.
"There are big benefits in using it - familiarly and speed of sign-in. But the downside is that if there is a bug, all your applications and users are impacted and there is nothing you can do about it. Right now, GetGlue users are sending us complaints about not being able to login or sign-up on our iPhone and iPad apps and we are just sitting waiting for Facebook to fix this."
Some accounts on some apps appear unable to authenticate through the new interface. We were able to login through Facebook on Shazam and Foursquare, but not on Cinch. There are a number of bug reports that have been filed about this in the Facebook developers bug repository. Facebook has not yet responded to our request for comment.
Facebook's Malorie Lucich sent the following response:
Mobile applications integrated with Facebook only get data from users when they explicitly grant permission. We recently updated the Connect for Mobile dialog to make the initial login process simpler. If you have not previously authorized the application, you will see the permission dialog after logging in, and no data is shared until you do this.
For example, I recently installed the AP app. When I wanted to begin using its Facebook features, I was prompted to log in with Facebook, and then, since I had not previously given it access to my information, I was prompted with the permissions dialog. Screenshots attached.
The older example you reference in the story predates the granular permission dialog, which we launched as part of our new data model in April
Regarding the downtime, we were experiencing a small bug that is now fixed.