New screenshots demonstrating Facebook’s much-anticipated Project Spartan web app platform, in addition to a tentative launch date for the service, have been published online. And despite Facebook’s promise that the service isn’t intended to rival the App Store, developers say there’s no question.
For those of you unfamiliar with Project Spartan, it is a HTML5-driven mobile application platform that Facebook has been working on for several for months in partnership with a group of third-party app developers. It was first revealed by TechCrunch around three weeks ago, and was originally thought to be a rival to Apple’s App Store and native iOS apps, but Facebook promptly declared that this wasn’t their aim.
Despite telling its partnering developers to keep quiet some time ago, it seems some continue to let secrets slip. TechCrunch has been given several screenshots of Facebook’s new service, but for fear of revealing their source, they have only posted image above, which they say has been slightly altered.
While the service may look similar to Facebook’s current web app, there are two things that should stand out: games & apps — accompanied by notifications.
The blue bar along the top is referred to as “chrome” (yes, it shares a name with a Google product). Developers say it’s the glue that binds all the different mobile sites together. That’s one key — these HTML5 apps are said to reside elsewhere, not on Facebook’s own servers (at least right now). So instead they have to make external calls to pull in the Facebook “chrome” to make the apps look like proper Facebook apps.
Until it’s pulled, you can get a better idea of how this service works by visiting the “Getting Started” site set up by a Facebook engineer who is working with developers.
One developer told TechCrunch that they are surprised by the quality of Spartan apps:
One developer says that the quality of the apps on the platform is really surprising — in a good way, naturally. Apparently, there are going to be a ton of games that will be a part of the Spartan launch. This shouldn’t be too surprising, HTML5 gaming has been something Facebook has been pushing. And Zynga is believed to be heavily involved in the project.
Despite Facebook’s promise that it has no intention of taking on Apple’s App Store, one developer said:
Facebook wants a cut of the Apple’s mobile app market, that’s been clear this entire time. Perhaps it’s not war against Apple — maybe Apple is just going to ‘gift’ Facebook the share of their market (the HTML5 share) in exchange an alliance being formed whereby Apple get’s some exclusive access to Facebook’s 600 million-plus users and thereby cutting out Google (exclusive to some degree, Facebook is too open for it to be fully exclusive). In this theory, it’s not Facebook Spartans vs. Apple, it’s Facebook/Apple Spartans Vs Google.
Facebook is aiming to have the service ready by July 15, with a formal unveiling between then and August 1.