Facebook’s mobile strategy, which seemed dormant just a month ago, is finally rounding into place with the release of two new developments: a native iPad application, and a new HTML5-friendly way for Facebook game developers to bypass Apple’s restrictions on Flash.
iPad users have been forced to update their status and browse pictures of Aunt Sally’s kids on an iPhone application that is either too small when viewed as an iPhone app or too blurry when zoomed in. They’ll now be able to use an application designed for the screen real estate provided by the iPad, although the app doesn’t seem to have found its way into the App Store as of Monday afternoon.
Perhaps more significantly for Facebook and its partners, however, is the release of technology that lets apps created for the Facebook Platform–think Zynga’s suite of Facebook games–run within mobile Facebook applications and the mobile Web. This step will also improve the way that Facebook users can interact with their friends across apps, such as being able to play games like Words With Friends equally easy from within the a PC browser pointed to Facebook.com or a mobile app.
Developers will be able to use what Facebook called “bookmarks” to inform those using the iOS Facebook apps that a mobile version of the application exists. If developers have built a native iOS application for that game, tapping on the bookmark will launch that app. If no native application exists, tapping on the bookmark will direct the user to the mobile Web application of that game.
Zynga and EA are among the first companies to take advantage of the new technology, but Gilt Groupe and Huffington Post also are on board at launch.
This appears to be the early implementation of what was known as Project Sparta, based on previous reporting from TechCrunch. The features unveiled Monday, however, are still very much tied to Apple’s native application system, as AllThingsD noted that HTML5 apps still don’t quite have the performance needed to compete with natively running implementations of the same app, something we pointed out last week.
And Facebook developers are still going to have to use Apple’s in-app purchasing system for anything along those lines, which has huge ramifications for the likes of Zynga. Facebook uses its own system within Facebook.com called Facebook Credits for allowing people to purchase virtual goods, but that’s not the kind of thing that Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) likes to see pass through any other company when it comes to apps running on its devices, as publishers know all too well. Developers will be able to use Facebook Credits within the mobile web versions of their apps, however.