Google Disables Facebook Contact Sync in Android 2.3.3 (Nexus S Only, for now)


The new Android 2.3.3 update rolling out to Nexus S handsets brings along a bunch of cool enhancements, writable NFC tags being one of them, but it might be what the update takes away that will have people talking. The update, in an effort to push Google’s data portability schtick, has disabled the ability for Facebook to sync its data with your contacts. The reason? Facebook never used Android’s Contacts API, meaning synced data was not portable from device to device, service to service. If you uninstall the Facebook application, poof. There goes the data.

That is exactly what Google is suggesting this update does. Treat your phone and contacts as if Facebook is uninstalled, and no longer giving Facebook the leeway to use their own method of contact sync. Google is playing their hand hoping that Facebook takes notice and is forced into moving over to Android’s built-in API. Here is the company line:

“We believe it is very important that users are able to control their data. So in the over-the-air update for Nexus S, we have a small change to how Facebook contacts appear on the device. For Nexus S users who downloaded the Facebook app from Android Market, Facebook contacts will no longer appear to be integrated with the Android Contacts app. Since Facebook contacts cannot be exported from the device, the appearance of integration created a false sense of data portability. Facebook contact data will continue to appear within the Facebook app. Like all developers on Android, Facebook is free to use the Android contacts API to truly integrate contacts on the device, which would allow users to have more control over their data. We are removing the special-case handling of Facebook contacts on Nexus S and future lead devices. We continue to believe that reciprocity (the expectation that if information can be imported into a service it should be able to be exported) is an important step toward creating a world of true data liberation — and encourage other websites and app developers to allow users to export their contacts as well.”

The good news is Google isn’t disabling the functionality in the Nexus One version of the Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread update. For now only the Nexus S won’t be able to sync contacts with Facebook, though Google mentions the feature will be revoked in other “lead devices” in the future. This most likely would stick to Google Experience devices, as most custom UIs like HTC Sense and Samsung TouchWiz feature their own methods of Facebook integration.

[via Engadget]

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  1. WOW I don’t know where I stand on this issue. On a better note it looks like the Nexus One will be going straight to 2.3.3, thats awesome then I will have two phones with the same update :P

  2. I love the feature that Facebook offers, but I agree with google on this. Facebook needs to allow the contact sync to be a two way street.

  3. I am with Micah on this. I have had contact information disappear from my address book because of Facebook changes. I want that information to be in my book. It would be nice if Google could find a way to do a one way transfer Facebook to Google without the ability for Facebook to overwrite.

  4. Never could use the Facebook contact sync with my Droid X. Motorola thought it would be a great idea to add EVERY facebook contact. Which is ridiculous. Syncmypix to the rescue.

  5. agreed. I don’t like that some third party (ie facebook) can remove or change information in my addressbook. that’s just too Orwellian.

  6. I hardly use Facebook, and this only seems fair. Although, doesn’t this sound like something Apple would do?

  7. Despite google’s worrying data-mining habit, I have to say I agree with them on this one…

  8. Since Facebook is mentioned here, why don’t they update their app. The comments that are in the market for it now are sad, thankful I didn’t update to their newest version.

  9. This is only one of the issues that prompted me to remove the Facebook App all together, the other (and likely more important) reason is the fact that you can’t disable “sync” (which should really just be called “constant data pull”) once it’s been enabled. That’s a deal breaker when running a phone on a limited data plan. Facebook can keep their bad app design for all I care. Offering the menu option to disable sync but not actually disabling it is deceptive.

  10. I’m agreeing with everyone and Google on this. Maybe it will finally prod Facebook to update their crappy app.

  11. @Sean: I concur!

  12. Completely agree with Google. Sad to see integration gone…but maybe it will make Facebook get their act together. Either way, you can’t keep catering to jerks.

  13. I don’t like Google’s move. But I can see where they are coming from.

    And that Facebook app is total crap. Force Closes on me all the time.

  14. Google needs to finish the job on facebook once and for all.

  15. Facebook will be as dead as myspace in 3 years at the rate in which it is becoming completely commercialized. You herd it here first folks.

  16. I agree with #15, Me but not in that time span. When MySpace did it, Facebook was there to pick up the lost users. There isn’t much out there to pick up from Facebook, no matter how much I wish there were.

  17. I don’t mind a syncing of a contact photo, but I would prefer that it end right there. I have known contacts of mine that almost never use facebook change their email, not update their facebook profile, and I can’t get my contacts to accept the new email because it syncs with FB. It seems like a pain to tell my contact to please update their FB profile so my contact info will be correct.

    @me…I think you are right. What I am hoping is that all the people that live out their life by telling me when their kids are sick and what they made for dinner will finally realize how stupid that is. 80% of the ¢rap will be gone.

  18. @me we knew that about, oh, 3 years ago?

    It’s just a matter of replacement

  19. First I was mad, until I read their statement, and it seems reasonable to me. Let Facebook worry about the integration of the Facebook contacts with google. It sounded like Google was integrating special coding just for Facebook. Let facebook do the integration and upkeep of their own software.

  20. I think Facebook should write the imformation to Gmail, so that instead of having a separate contact picture it just changes the Gmail picture (with user discretion) and facebook contact info is added to the user’s gmail contact if it exists. It should also be exportable to other contact books.

    Once annoyance I always had with Facebook, is that if I had a gmail picture, the faecbook picture wouldn’t be automatically selected when I signed in, so I’d have to go to each contact and hit edit and select ‘use this picture’. It got tedious as my ROM flashing became more frquent.

  21. When I saw the headline I though it was kind of dumb, until I read through the article. I always hated how you would have a facebook contact show up, but it was uneditable. Hopefully this will lead to full integration.

  22. Buttfacebook is the Jerry Springer Trailer Park of the Internet, why should they be allowed to define standards?

  23. +1 for Google.

    imho: Google should do it for all the phones, not just for Nexus S.

  24. Vote for Android in LinkedIn poll – iPhone is leading at the moment:

  25. Team Google! Facebook loves to frustrate its users by locking up their own information, then turn around and share it with advertisers and partners. I’m glad Google is calling them on it.
    And it doesn’t help any that Facebook’s app is just plain horrendous.

  26. Wait, what are you ppL talking about!? My Facebook contacts were different contacts, and I had to link them to my phone. So I had Example Contact in my phone and Example Contact’s Facebook as another contact. So I had to go to Example Contact and link the phone contact and the Facebook Contact. am I missing something?
    Oh, and the guy who said you can’t stop syncing your Facebook. Why don’t you just open the Facebook app, Press facebook to bring up your menu, press the actually menu button on your phone to bring up 4 tabs, press settings, and change your sync interval to never. -_- Dohye!! LoL!!

  27. the only problem is sometimes when you first install it, Farcebook syncs over your info right away.

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