Android users may soon have a way to poke and message their Facebook friends on the go, as an official application is expected to soon hit the Android Market, according to a report from TechCrunch.
The Google-backed mobile platform has drawn more than 5,000 apps, but Facebook has been conspicuously missing. The social network has long had popular mobile applications for Apple's iPhone and Research In Motion's BlackBerry lineup, it recently released a version for Microsoft's Windows Mobile, and it has strong integration with Palm's webOS platform. Google and Facebook have not officially commented on the status of an app as of press time.
The Android version will take advantage of the Open Stream API to display friends' updates and messages, but the report said this version won't be as robust as on other platforms. For example, the BlackBerry program can integrate Facebook friends' information with the handset's contact book, and this likely won't be in the Android version.
Facebook has never given an official reason for the lack of Android support, but the platform may soon become too big to ignore. Google said it expects there to be up to 20 handsets released before the end of the year, including devices from Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Samsung, and HTC. Mobile operators appear to be on board as well, as T-Mobile is making a big Android push, and Sprint Nextel and Verizon Wireless said they will soon have Android-powered smartphones.
For Facebook, the mobile space enables the company to keep users engaged on the go, as well as provide a growth avenue in regions without desktop computers. Rival MySpace said nearly 20 million users access their site through a cell phone, and that is expected to grow at a rapid pace.
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