APIs expand the capabilities of software to exploit new features and make new connections with other apps and platforms - and they're an integral part of creating useful and more complete user experiences. But when a company changes elements in its APIs, the effects can be profound for other companies that rely on them.
Unfortunately, users of Windows and other Microsoft services will soon become uncomfortably aware of this, following changes made by Facebook to its Graph API, which Microsoft uses to connect its accounts with Facebook. Microsoft explains that the Graph API:
...brings contact information from your Facebook friends into Outlook.com and the Windows People app, keeps those contacts up-to-date, and provides options in apps and services like Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, and OneDrive.com to share to Facebook. We collectively refer to these features as Facebook Connect."
As a result of the changes, all Facebook Connect support will no longer function in Microsoft operating systems, or across its various services. You can click on the links below to find out exactly how these changes will affect specific platforms and services on the Microsoft site:
- Outlook.com Contacts
- Outlook.com, Windows , Windows Phone and Office 365 Calendar sync
- Windows 8.1 People app
- Windows 8 People app
- Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 Calendar app
- Windows 8 Photo Gallery and Movie Maker
- Windows 8 Photos App
- Windows Phone 7 and 8 People app
- Windows Phone 7 and 8 OneDrive
- Windows Phone 7 and 8 Photos
- Windows Live Essentials Calendar and Contacts
- OneDrive Online
- Outlook Social Connector in Outlook 2013
- Office 365 Outlook Web App
The impact of these changes will clearly be significant. Facebook updates will no longer appear in the Windows 8.x People app; Facebook events won't sync with your Microsoft calendars; Facebook contacts will no longer be synchronized with your Microsoft account...
Indeed, for those who appreciate the connectivity between Microsoft's services and Facebook, it seems that quite a sizeable chunk of useful functionality will be ripped out of those services as a result of these changes.
Users will now have to rely more heavily on accessing Facebook updates, photos and contacts directly via the social network's own apps or its website - good news for Facebook, but bad news for those who have come to rely on the functionality that's now been disabled.
The title of this article was amended after publication to make it clear that these changes affect Windows Phone 7 and 8 specifically.