You can now download App Store apps without leaving Facebook

By , Dec 18, 2012

Facebook for iOS (App Store installs 001)

Remember the App Center, a cross-platform application store Facebook launched ahead of its rebuilt iOS app? Hosted and curated by Facebook, the App Center is available as a link in the main menu of their iOS client, listing Facebook-enhanced apps and games that can be found on the App Store. Previously, tapping an entry yanked you out of the Facebook app and into the App Store.

That’s no longer the case as it is now possible to install App Store software from a pop-up inside the Facebook app, which is an iOS 6 SDK feature available to all third-party developers who wish to implement it…

TechCrunch has the story:

Facebook and Apple’s growing alliance bears new fruit today, as mobile app install ads in Facebook for iOS 6 now allow users to downloads apps from the App Store from a pop-up instead of interrupting users and forcing them to leave Facebook.

The Next Web warns the feature does not indicate special treatment from Apple as it was “given to all developers on iOS 6 by Apple, not something done specifically for Facebook”.

Benjamin Mayo explains that programmers simply tap a new object called ‘SKStoreProductViewController‘ to display the App Store without interrupting the session.

In-app installs work as expected: the apps are downloaded in the background and noted with a ‘new’ badge (if it bothers you, remove it with this tweak).

Facebook for iOS (App Store installs 003)

Facebook recently launched mobile app install ads to let devs pay for a spot in the Facebook News Feed to promote their apps. Because these ads are bought on a cost-per-click basis, in-app installs give devs more bang for their advertising dollars.

Facebook for iOS (App Store installs 002)

Facebook in yesterday’s blog post wrote that “when people click on these ads, they will be sent to the App Store or Google Play to download the app, depending on the device”.

The company also noted that “in coming months” it will improve the user experience of mobile app install ads.

For example, you may be able to customize your ad unit based on your audience, ensure that your ads are only shown to people who have not installed your app on iOS or Android devices, and allow people to start installing your app without leaving Facebook.

Today, a follow-up post on the Facebook Developers blog sheds more light:

Mobile app install ads drive installs by taking people directly to the App Store or Google Play. Now, people on iOS 6 can install an app without leaving their Facebook experience. When they click on an ad, the App Store will appear in another dialog box. After installing the app, they will be able to continue where they left off on Facebook.

Apple’s own Mail app in iOS 6 also features a similar ability by way of iTunes preview sheets for App Store links in email messages, seen below.

iOS 6 (Mail, App Store previews 001) iOS 6 (Mail, App Store previews 002)

The first major third-party app to implement the feature – at least to my knowledge – is the refreshed Flipboard app that now lists curated iBookstore content from iTunes.

Less intrusive installs mean people are more likely to complete the download process because everything now happens in-app.

TechCrunch agrees:

Some users would be surprised and perturbed to be booted from Facebook and pushed into the iOS App Store app when they click “Install App”. They might have immediately backed out and reopened Facebook before initiating the download.

Such an arrangement actually benefits all sides.

Developers can expect to convert more ad clicks to app installs.

Facebook earns coolness points with devs.

Apple gets to boost App Store downloads due to a less cumbersome process.

Everybody wins.

It’ll be interesting seeing whether Google allows a similar ability so users could install Play Store apps without leaving Facebook’s Android client.

Anyways, do you think you’ll be more likely to download App Store apps from Facebook’s iOS client now that this unobtrusive downloading experience is in place?

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  • http://twitter.com/mdridwan Mohammad Ridwan

    Now that wouldn’t have happened under Steve Jobs.. ;)
    But I don’t think this is a bad idea..

    • iky1e

      Yes it would have. It’s an iOS SDK feature all apps have access to. Nothing special about the Facebook app using it.

  • Guest

    this is old news lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.montville Brandon Montville

    Hello new exploits.

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com/author/dujkan Christian Zibreg

      I’ve removed that line and added some clarification

      • iky1e

        Thanks :)

    • iky1e

      Sadly no, this is very unlikely. The reason for this, and quite a few other things users wouldn’t notice, is because iOS now has something from OSX called XPC. It allows an application to run as several different processes. Now mail, twitter, photos, and AppStore views all run in other processes.

      Before everything inside an app really was inside an app. A developer could modify it and mess with stuff as much as they wanted. Exactly like iOS tweaks, because that is how tweaks work. MobileSubstrate (simplistically) only loads tweaks into processes, its up to them to do everything from there. So apple couldn’t let apps at anything ‘too’ sensitive.
      Now the sensitive stuff doesn’t ‘really’ run inside the app, but along side it.

      It’s possible there are a few bugs but you can design which messages these extra processes will respond to, and even what they can themselves access. The multiprocess stuff was designed as a security feature so its addition to iOS is more probably going to mean less exploitable bugs as everything can be separated into little boxes to do their own things without effecting the rest of the app.

  • iky1e

    I love iDownloadBlog but this is a silly overhyping post.

    “Though unexpected, this is a welcome change as I think it demonstrates that the Apple-Facebook partnership goes much deeper than its integration in iOS 6.”
    No it doesn’t that’s part of the SDK now, all apps have access to it. It’d be like saying Instagram being able to access your photo library means they are working well together.
    Letting people install things from within iOS 6 is a great move forward, but it was triggered by XPC (c API) coming to iOS. Not a relationship with any other company.

    • jose castro

      yeah i agree way over-hyped .. if your trying to find something to blog about, please don’t post crap like this because we really don’t think care about it. It’s an SDK feature all apps have access too.

  • http://twitter.com/J_Private_dev J Private Dev

    Well thanks for giving us developers a little heads up :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    IOS is still boring as hell

  • Jonathan

    why isnt this available from safari. tapping a link to an app and being transferred to the app store is not nice.

    • Falk M.

      It sucks so bad it’s not even funny.
      I’d like to at least have the option to view it in Safari.

      Examples:
      -You see an app that’s not available in your country, but want to see the description from the foreign store. Mac -> Stay in Safari, done.
      iPhone -> eeeeerr…. “NOT AVAILABLE”
      -The app is available, but you want to check foreign reviews: not happening
      -The app is a Mac or iPad app and you want to simply check it out on your iPhone (hmmm, buying iPad apps from the iPhone to have them downloaded automatically to your iPad wouldn’t hurt either…) – NOT HAPPENING

      Oh Jesus…