If you were a recipient of the Android 2.3.3 OTA that went out to the Nexus S, or went ahead and did it manually, you may have noticed that Facebook contact syncing is suddenly missing. That's because Google has purposely removed the feature from the Nexus S and all future "googlephones" because users can't pull those synced Facebook contacts off the phone, and if you decide to remove your Facebook account, those contacts will suddenly go missing. Google's official statement on the matter is as follows:
“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.”
Interestingly enough, this won't be affecting Nexus One owners who also updated today because the Facebook app for the Nexus One was baked in to the stock software. Google says they don't want to remove a feature that users were already expecting to be available. With all of that in mind, do remember that OEMs like Motorola and HTC can re-enable this feature relatively easily. Both HTC and Motorola already use their own Facebook sync, so this may be a non-issue for many. [TechCrunch]
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