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Facebook apps jungle to get a little quieter
When you log in to Facebook on Saturday (and if you're reading this, you probably will), you might notice things are a little different. Quieter, even. And if your News Feed is clogged with notifications about what your friends are doing in apps you don't care about - well, that might get a bit better too.
Why? As of Oct. 1, Facebook is requiring that all apps move over to SSL authentication - in short, the sort of secure browsing that you see when you're, say, paying your credit card bill online. (You can recognize secure browsing in a variety of ways: a little padlock icon or a change of color in your browser address bar's background, as well as a site address that starts with the prefix https://.) For the most part, this is a good thing; after years of being plagued by security issues, Facebook's system-wide switch to SSL browsing is a major acknowledgment that we're living more and more of our lives, including the high-security parts, online.
The Facebook developer community has actually been prepared for the shift for several months, which is pretty rare when it comes to Facebook announcements. Most users have been using facebook.com over a secure connection for months now; the ability to access Facebook via SSL was launched in January, and users have been slowly auto-urged to upgrade. So why is it anticipated that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of apps will go silent on Saturday morning? (Any app not using SSL will be relegated to "sandbox" mode, which means its developers can see it but no one else can.) Chalk it up, maybe, to the conceptual shift developers have to make when Facebook actually gives advance notice of a change. Or, perhaps, delays in changes to apps as a result of devs waiting for all the shiny new features announced last week during f8. Or it could just be the laziness factor of creating something and failing to support it. After all, browsing abandoned apps in Facebook's erstwhile App Directory gave off ghost town vibes; maybe that's why Facebook axed the directory earlier this summer.
We're curious. Will your Facebook user experience be different with fewer apps to contend with, or will you notice the difference? And if you're an app developer, how have you coped with the shift? Let us know in the comments.