Facebook: We would have been a mobile application if created today

"I think Facebook would have been a mobile application had the technology been available 8 years ago when Mark Zuckerberg was making it in his dorm room,"

That's the feeling of Brett Taylor, Facebook's chief technology officer, when spoke to Pocket-lint at this year's Mobile World Congress.

Talking all things "mobile", Taylor told us that's the way Facebook is now thinking more and more.

"What better way to connect you to your friend than with a device that you always have in your pocket, has a camera built in, all of these things that we do on Facebook? So a lot of the transition we are making as a company is really thinking about Facebook in terms of these new interfaces,"

It make sense - Facebook's move into the mobile space has drawn lots of attention. It has 425 million monthly users accessing the mobile version of the site ready to let their friends know what they are doing while on the go.

"Our mobile website is our most popular interface. It is actually more popular than iOS and Android combined," adds Taylor. "We really feel that these devices are the best version of Facebook because they have all of these capabilities to do share that were very difficult before."

Taylor is right, with GPS, cameras, the ability to instantly upload to the web, phones and tablets are quickly becoming more powerful than the laptop in terms of being social.

"There is a camera built in, there is a GPS built in, there is voice built in. So now all the things that are already popular on Facebook like photo sharing or checking in, or sharing a status update are just easier to do. Over time it is pretty reasonable to expect a lot of things that are possible just due to the technical capabilities of the devices that just aren't possible on laptops."

So what is Facebook doing to make its most popular platform even more popular?

"We are currently working to make a better experience for tablets and mobile devices with bigger screens, but on the mobile phone it will always have a slightly different interface because it is a smaller form factor," Taylor tells Pocket-lint.

"We have had good feedback. Our goal is to have feature parity, but on the in practice the design will have to be different because of the restrictions of the form factor."

It isn't just about a better design, though. Facebook has launched a new initiative, a move to make mobile phones better at viewing Facebook and the apps that are designed for the social networks mobile apps. 

"We have announced a new consortium called Core Mobile web platform with 30 different partners including OEMs, operators and browser makers to form a group to push forward the mobile web and HTML5 standards," explains Taylor.

Those partners include Samsung, HTC, Sony, Nokia, operators, and browser developers like Mozilla, Opera, Microsoft. Facebook has even got app makers such as Adobe, Netflix, VEVO, Zynga, and Electronic Arts to sign up to the agreement too.

The idea is that phones will be given a score allowing consumers to see how a phone performs based on a set number of tasks. Facebook hopes that the urge for manufacturers and browser developer to have a device that performs well will compel them to conform to the standards, and it should make it easier for developers in the future to create mobile apps that they know will work on as many devices as possible.

"Our hope is that it gets broader industry accountability so when new phones come out they actually implement the mobile web standards the correct way, then when developers make apps they know it will work properly," says Taylor.  "When a phone is being produced it will have a score that comes with it to say here's how well it does the mobile web."

So what's the phone that's the best for viewing Facebook? Taylor played coy.

"There won't be a Facebook's favourite phone, but our hope is that the industry will have a number of devices that do have high compliance scores and that a it is a large number of devices, so as a developer you can quantify the size of the market and the tools you can use knowing that they will work."

It is clear from our time with Taylor that he and Facebook are keen to get more people to use the web on the phone. After all, as he said at the start of our interview, if Zuckerberg was creating Facebook now, it would be a mobile app first.

"We are the biggest cheerleader of mobile ever because it is making Facebook what it should be - which is this real-time serendipitous communications service. Every time someone engages with Facebook on a mobile device we feel they are getting the right, natural Facebook experience we really want them to get."

Now where's our phone, we need to write a status update.



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