Signs Of What Could Have Been: iOS Hooked Up With Facebook Before Marrying Twitter

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It’s easy to take Twitter’s deep integration on iOS 5 and go nuts with speculation surrounding its symbolism; “Twitter is the new Facebook,” whatever that means! “Apple chose Twitter over Facebook!” Well as this video of a test build of iOS 4 from this April brings to light, perhaps the choice wasn’t necessarily Apple’s …

If you watch the above video closely, at minute 1:03 you can see clear signs of Facebook integration in the leaked iPhone’s native apps Setting screen, with Twitter nowhere to be found. What’s interesting to note is that in this build of iOS 4 Facebook sits squarely where Twitter is now in the iOS 5 settings menu, without the added icon for iCloud (see left versus right, below).

Yes it’s absolutely not news that iOS had Facebook integration at some point. One developer build included code that would allow you to upload video to Facebook through Photos. Apple had at some point gone to the lengths of trying to patent a contact sync technology that allowed you to directly Friend people on Facebook through your iPhone contacts.

And Business Insider reported in May 2010 that Apple was considering integrating Facebook Connect directly into the SDK, so app developers could add Facebook features to their apps — which while vague, sounds similar to what the Twitter iOS 5 integration entails today. But many of us have forgotten these pieces of the puzzle as we move forward on this story.

It’s widely known that Facebook integration was planned for Ping and less widely known that it was planned for OS X Lion, both integrations were pulled shortly after Ping’s launch in the fall. Jobs said that it was Facebook’s “onerous terms” that broke down the Facebook/Apple partnership, despite the fact that Jobs was seen hanging out with Zuckerberg shortly after Ping’s (failed) launch.

Sure, Apple really doesn’t get social networking and Facebook doesn’t really get gadgets. But going beyond the myriads of strategic reasons you can pull out of the woodwork for why Apple “chose” Twitter over Facebook, it might be wise to mull over the possibility that Facebook could have been Apple’s first choice. Especially considering the evidence.

Image right: BI