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Vita for Facebook has arrived (with help from Google & Facebook's legal teams)

The exciting day has arrived and we've just released Vita for Facebook on Google Play (Amazon Appstore and Samsung Apps versions will be submitted soon) which is a radical overhaul both from a design and functionality viewpoint, from what it previously was: Facedroid. So why did we choose a new name? I'm glad you asked.

Background: I'm from +Platinum Apps, which is really just myself, a team of contract developers and a couple of designers who also undertake contract work for me as required.

Towards the end of last year I received an e-mail from someone in Facebook's legal department who advised they weren't happy with "Face" being included in the name of our app, advising the app was in breach of the Facebook Terms of Service and we would need to change the name. Appreciating that they got in touch rather than just asking Google to pull the app from Google Play, and not wanting to get on Facebook's bad side (for obvious reasons), the discussion went a little like this (paraphrased):
Facebook: The "Face" in Facedroid is in breach of term 5.6 of document xyz so we'd like you to change the name of your app.
Me: {Gulp} Sorry, I wasn't aware of that – could you please clarify further so I know what can and can't be done.
Facebook: Sure, here's the info {link provided}
Me: Ok, sorry, my bad. We'll change the name. I'll get this underway ASAP and keep you posted.

So although all the research I did indicated that Facebook didn't own the copyright over the word "Face", because Facedroid is a Facebook app and we use their API, we need to abide by their terms and apparently those terms mean we couldn't use the word 'Face' in the app name. Game, set and match, Facebook. We'd need to change the name.

Towards the end of this conversation, I also received an e-mail from someone in Google's legal department who had a similar objection, but related to having "droid" in the name of the app. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!
Again, I was appreciative that they didn't simply remove the app from sale and then leave us to talk about it later, but I also wanted clarification about their request, and that conversation went a little like this:
Google: "Facedroid" includes a significant portion of our Android trademark and we don't want people to think we're involved with your app in any way {offensive, but I can understand their viewpoint} and we'd like to work with you to change the name of your app.
Me: {Gulp} Sorry, I wasn't aware of that and I'd be happy work with you to get this resolved – thanks for the offer. Can you provide some further details about what is and isn't acceptable?

At this point in time, I'm wondering if they're going to also get in touch with the thousands of other developers who also use the work "droid" in their app names, but I wasn't going to bring it up.

Google: Sure, here are some guidelines – is that all clear now?
Me: Yep, crystal clear, we'll get to work on changing the name, but hope you can appreciate this will take some time.
Google; Yep, we understand, just keep us posted.
Me: Will do, thanks.

And so we set about coming up with a new name for Facedroid, which isn't as easy as it might sound. We now have a bunch of guidelines we need to follow to avoid a similar situation in the future, plus we need something that is simple and also includes some kind of reference or tie-in to Facebook, otherwise people won't know that it's an app that let's you access Facebook on your Android devices. After coming up with lots of names and ruling them out one by one, eventually one name stuck: Vita for Facebook
Vita means 'Life' and we wanted the new logo to symbolise this new life, so the icon represents mitosis, where cells split in 2 and new life is formed. The connection between the 2 circles also indicates the connection between people, and the multiple layers of the logo represent the different levels of people's connections. I was happy with it so we then set about making all the necessary changes to the promo materials etc.

Rather than simply change the icon and name and release it as is, we took this opportunity to completely re-design Facedroid and bring it more in line with the Android design guidelines, implement the Holo theme throughout and make a whole bunch of other improvements (including performance, which was sorely lacking) at the same time. The result is an app that I'm really proud of and hope everyone will enjoy. It is by no means finished and work is still happening right now to improve the app further including bug fixes, performance improvements and also applying the new designs to the tablet version. In the meantime, I hope you'll download Vita for Facebook on your Android phone, check it out, send us feedback via the 'Send Feedback' section within the app or on [email protected] so we can take it on board as we continue working hard to make Vita for Facebook the best Facebook app available on Android phones and tablets.

Vita for Facebook is available on Google Play ( right now.

If you want to check out a sneak peek of the tablet version we're currently working on, take a look here:

If you have any comments, queries or suggestions, please let me know in the comments below or on [email protected].

Oh, and if you develop an app with the word 'droid' in it, I'd suggest being proactive and changing the name just in case Google aren't as patient with you as they were with me.