Facebook to share its logins with other sites, wants better apps

At its annual F8 developer conference Wednesday, Facebook unveiled a system like OpenID where users can login to other sites with their Facebook account. It also rolled out new tools to help developers create better applications.

Available in the fall, Connect will allow users of Facebook to take their identities with them across partner sites. 24 websites and applications have already announced their support for the initiative, including Digg, Six Apart, and Citysearch.

Essentially, the offering looks much like OpenID, where a single login is used across all participating sites. For example, Digg users can choose to login with a Facebook identity, and when a user diggs a story, it can appear in their mini-feed.

Responding in advance to expected concerns about security and privacy, Facebook noted that users would be able to trust the sites that would be participating in the unified login process, as well as ensure their privacy preferences follow them on each of the partner sites.

On the developer side, Facebook committed further to assisting developers in building better applications. It has opened up its Translation Application to assist in localizing Facebook apps for international use.

20 languages are currently available, and the company said another 69 will follow soon. While developers can use this system, Facebook said it would also help developers use the community to translate applications as well.

Besides translation, four other programs were announced Wednesday. The first, called Great Apps, will give promotional support and feedback from the company to the service's best apps. The selection process will be open to all developers in September.

Application verification is the second program, which would ensure the security, transparency, and reliability of applications for users. Also to be available in September, verified apps would be more visible on the service.

Facebook additionally plans to expand the fbFund, a grant program for developers. An additional $10 million will be awarded to the top 25 applications, which would be decided on by users.

Finally, the company launched a new developer Web site that improves navigation and offers cleaner access to the blog, wiki, and forum to help promote community involvement. Facebook said it would also provide case studies to help developers understand best practices and the like.

Noticeably missing from Wednesday's spate of announcements was the oft-rumored payment processing system. With such a system, developers would be able to charge for the applications that users download.

When asked about the payment system by Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded, "I wish I knew," not providing more details on the feature's status.

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