Facebook is reportedly looking to loosen Apple’s grip on mobile app distribution – by creating software intended for iOS devices. However, rather than releasing software through the App Store, Facebook is supposedly readying “Project Spartan”, a push for browser-based apps and services. According to TechCrunch‘s sources, Project Spartan will wrap Facebook social networking around HTML5 apps from big names like game developer Zynga and the Huffington Post, all in the browser.
The Facebook wrapper will allow app developers to use services like Credits to support app sales and in-app purchases. HTML5 is the centerpiece, with Project Spartan tipped to be the culmination of Facebook’s push away from Flash and to the more iOS-friendly standard.
According to a preview of Project Spartan’s functionality, the app store component would just be another drop-down from the mobile site version of the social network. Although Apple is believed to be Facebook’s key target, the functionality will also work in the Android browser and indeed any browser that support HTML5. By bypassing the App Store, Facebook gets greater control over payments and what sort of apps and services its users offer.
Facebook is supposedly working with around 80 developers at present, ahead of a targeted soft launch in the next few weeks and a formal unveil shortly after that. Meanwhile, Apple has pushed ahead with greater Twitter integration in iOS 5, seen by many as a snub of Facebook.
The social network has declined to comment on the rumors.