SOCIAL NETWORK Facebook has announced an update to its software development kit (SDK) for Android.
Calling it the "biggest overhaul of our Android SDK so far", Facebook said the update provides "advanced functionality" and makes it easier to build "more immersive social experiences" as well as better distribute and promote apps.
Some of the new features include updated native user interface (UI) controls, simplified session management and better Facebook application programming interface (API) support.
The new native UI controls include several pre-built "Fragments" and "Views" for common tasks. Facebook said built-in caching and on-demand loading make these controls more efficient and responsive than web dialogs.
"Friend Picker lets people tag friends in an Open Graph action or find other people who installed your app, Places Picker shows nearby places with customisable locations, and Profile Picture control shows the profile picture for any Facebook object, including people, places and things," the social network said.
New login controls in the update also simplify how developers can manage user identity and app permissions.
The revised SDK's simplified session management feature includes tools that make authentication and authorisation much easier for developers via a "Fragment" and a "Button" that manage login state automatically.
"Login state is cached in Shared Preferences by default," Facebook said. "You can make sessions external to support low memory scenarios, an optional Activity base class makes this automatic. The modular design handles details you don't care about while giving you more control when you need it."
The better Facebook API support means you can now batch SDK requests for Facebook API calls to gain much faster access times for API requests.
"Callbacks and listeners are factored in to better support MVC-style programming," Facebook added. "Facebook JSON data can be manipulated with strongly-typed interfaces to reduce coding errors and simplify reading and writing to Facebook."
A "mobile install measurement" has also been added to the update, which means developers can measure clicks and installs for mobile app install ads.
Alongside the update Facebook also introduced a new Android Developer Center so developers can quickly access tools and resources needed to build better social apps.
Those who were big users of the old SDK shouldn't worry, as Facebook said the updated kit is also backwards compatible.
Earlier this week Facebook officially opened its first non-US engineering centre in London to focus on mobile. The centre was opened by UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne at Facebook's existing UK commercial outpost in Covent Garden. According to Facebook, the centre and its engineering team will be mainly focusing on mobile server side performance enhancements. µ
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