Why did Apple choose Twitter over Facebook for iOS 5?

twitter iOS 5When Apple introduced us to iOS 5 at WWDC earlier this week, one of the most attention-getting new features was its deep integration with Twitter. Every preinstalled iOS app now includes the option to share via Twitter and to even include your location. It’s a powerful tool and one many iOS users will be happy to use, but we have to ask ourselves: Why not Facebook? Don’t get us wrong, Twitter is a popular and far-reaching social network that boasts approximately 200 million users and one billion tweets per week. But Facebook’s grip on social media is something that cannot be challenged, and you have to wonder why Apple didn’t connect its service with iOS 5.

It’s not like it hasn’t been done before. Windows Phone 7 handsets integrate Facebook into its People Hub, and Android merges Facebook friends with your phone contacts. But now any app iOS users download will simply request Twitter credential permission, a prestigious position given how important your Internet identity is to developers. So why not Facebook?

Technical complications

The easiest answer is that it’s just not ready yet. Apple and Facebook could very well be in discussions about a partnership and are simply navigating a way to best do this. Facebook is a more complex platform than Twitter, there’s more users can do with it, and it stands to reason that weaving its intricacies into those of iOS cleanly and efficiently will require more time. It’s hard to believe that the brains behind Apple and Facebook couldn’t find a working approach, but both companies have very established brands and finding a compromise may mean it takes longer to reach a finished product. That said, this seems unlikely – mostly given the history between these two tech giants.

Apple and Facebook aren’t friends

If Apple opted to integrate Twitter because talks with Facebook soured, it wouldn’t be the first time the two companies’ business relationship suffered from disagreement. Ping, Apple’s music-minded social platform, integrated Facebook at one point. Unfortunately, it didn’t play out smoothly and the social network shut off Facebook Connect for Ping and said the two would have to agree on some sort of deal. Apparently, Facebook’s terms were not to Steve Jobs’ liking (he called them “onerous”) and the Ping-Facebook integration was dead. And where did Apple turn? Twitter.

Facebook’s relationship with Microsoft likely doesn’t win it any favors with Apple either. The two computing giants are often pitted against each other, and it’s not just because of those “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” commercials (although those didn’t help). They are one another’s antithesis and have battled in just about every digital arena, most recently in the mobile world where Microsoft continues to challenge Apple’s “App Store” trademark. Seeing as WP7 first wove Facebook deep into its mobile OS, it stands to reason that Apple didn’t want to be the second one there, especially given its previous tussle with Facebook.

The ball is in Facebook’s court

Facebook has had an interesting relationship with the mobile world since the consumer smartphone market began booming. Rumors about a “Facebook Phone” have plagued us, all while Facebook denies such ambitions. But the INQ Cloud Touch, the alleged “Facebook Phone,” so heavily integrates with the social network that it may as well be called such. There are still rumblings another device is in the works though, including rumors Facebook will partner with HTC on a smartphone. It’s not unthinkable that Facebook wants to see itself as more than a Website – even the world’s most popular Website – and has ambitions of becoming a fully-equipped platform. If this is the case, the company would likely be cautious about deeply integrating with the world’s most popular and iconic smartphone.

Who loses?

In some way, shape, or form, everyone loses – everyone except Twitter, that is (which also stands to see its photo sharing platform take off thanks to this deal). Apple loses because it’s accepting second best. We’ll say it one more time: Twitter is a social networking giant and a force to be reckoned with in its market. It still doesn’t have the user pull and amount of consumer data Facebook does, two incredibly valuable assets. And iOS users lose because while integrated Twitter service will easily please a great many of them, statistically, there are going to be more people without Twitter accounts than there are without Facebook accounts, so there will be more who couldn’t care less about a Twitter function and would prefer Facebook than the other way around.

But the player that stands to lose the most in this deal is Facebook. Facebook has made Internet identity into the commodity it is today, and it has served as the platform that creates and connects other companies to that. Facebook Connect has given sites access to its social graph and in turn made them “social,” and the implementation of Facebook Comments across the Internet has made people turn to their Facebook profile as their digital identity of choice. Apple using Twitter xAuth protocol as a sign-in system is a coup for Twitter and a loss for Facebook Connect. As mobile Web consumption and production become more and more prevalent, Twitter having a handle on your identity here (given you’re an iOS user) gives it some advantage.

Developers may also have preferred iOS 5-Facebook integration, seeing as Facebook accounts yield far more information they could make use of. Of course there’s always an upside: Challenge in this sector is good, especially for consumers, who might not want one social network becoming the only option out there for their online identities.

Gaming

Apple Arcade might be the new game subscription service worth signing up for

Apple Arcade will launch this fall bringing a new game-subscription service with cross-platform support for iOS, Mac, and Apple TV. At launch, the service will feature more than 100 exclusive games, with more added to the service regularly.
Wearables

Looking to get in shape for the new year? Snag one of these fitness trackers

Looking for your first fitness tracker, or an upgrade to the one you're already wearing? There are plenty of the wrist-worn gadgets available. Here are our picks for the best fitness trackers available right now.
Apple

Apple Pay will be available at 70 percent of U.S. retail locations this year

Apple Pay is growing rapidly, so we've built a list of all the vendors, retailers, and companies worldwide that plan to support Apple's burgeoning mobile payment platform or already do.
Social Media

New Zealand attack shows that as A.I. filters get smarter, so do violators

The shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand were livestreamed to social media, and while stats show networks are improving at removing offending videos, as the system improves, so do the violators' workarounds.
Mobile

The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G might be a few short weeks away from launch

Samsung has announced a whopping four new Galaxy S10 devices, from the low-cost S10e to the triple-camera S10 and S10 Plus. But it's the Galaxy S10 5G that steals the show as it's among the first 5G-ready smartphones to hit the market.
Wearables

Fossil made a smartwatch in 2004, and it’s part of a new brand retrospective

Fossil has been making watches for 35 years, and to celebrate the anniversary, it has a new retrospective exhibit complete with the first smartwatch it made — the Wrist Net watch from 2004.
Wearables

Fossil is working on a smartwatch with BMW, and it’s coming next year

Fossil, the watch company that makes smartwatches under its own name and partners with other major brands too, intends to launch a smartwatch with car manufacturer BMW in the future.
Mobile

Diesel’s denim-inspired smartwatch straps are a casual, colorful must-own

Diesel will release two new versions of the On Full Guard 2.5 smartwatch later this year, with seriously cool, denim-inspired straps in classic Diesel colors. We tried them on at the Baselworld 2019 show.
Mobile

The Moto G7 Power, with its massive battery, is now available for purchase

After a number of leaks and rumors, the Motorola Moto G7, Moto G7 Play, and Moto G7 Power are finally here. The devices represent quite a spec bump over the previous-generation Moto G6 phones, yet still come at a reasonable price.
Mobile

Got gadgets galore? Keep them charged up with the 10 best USB-C cables

We're glad to see that USB-C is quickly becoming the norm. That's why we've rounded up some of the better USB-C cables on the market, whether you're looking to charge or sync your smartphone. We've got USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A.
Mobile

5G's arrival is transforming tech. Here's everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

HMD Global admits Nokia 7 Plus handsets sent user data to China

Nokia could be in some hot water. According to recent reports, Nokia 7 models may be secretly sending data to China without the user knowing about it. Nokia says that the issue was a software bug and that it has been fixed.
Mobile

24 must-have apps for rooted Android phones and tablets

Rooting your Android device opens up a world of possibilities, along with a few apps. Here are 24 of our favorites, so you can make the most of your rooted device and unleash the true power of Android.
Mobile

Flex your thumbs (and your brain) with these fun texting games

Gaming consoles keep getting more advanced, but you can still have fun with the good old Latin alphabet. Here are our picks for the best texting games, so you can make the most fun out of that limited data plan or basic cell phone.