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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Facebook, Twitter are making end-runs around Apple TV login problems

Last week, Facebook announced a beta of its SDK for tvOS, which, among other things, aimed to simplify logging in to apps on the Apple TV:

Facebook Login: A fast and easy way for people to log into your app and for you to provide rich, personalized experiences. To log into an app with their Facebook account, people can simply enter a confirmation code displayed on the TV into their smartphone or computer, rather than entering their username and password with the remote.

Now, Twitter has made a similar announcement with Digits for tvOS:

Using Digits’ device authorization, your app on the Apple TV will show a short alphanumeric code. Your user then simply enters the code on via their laptop or smartphone to authorize the device to their account. Once that’s done, the TV device receives a Digits session for the user’s account which you can use to instantly identify your user and personalize their experience. [emphasis theirs]

Apple’s left a pretty big gap in its armor by not coming up with a better way to handle logins, and Twitter and Facebook are tripping over themselves to graciously offer their services to developers.

Even more eyebrow-raising, in both of those cases notice the phrase “personalized experiences.” That could be innocuous, but let’s consider that these are social networks that stand to gain by learning more about users’ likes, dislikes, and so on. That’s potentially a big opportunity for Twitter and Facebook, which explains why they’ve been so quick to leap into the fray.

It’s unlike Apple to leave a major functional opening for other companies to swoop in like this, especially when we’re talking about something tied this tightly to users. Frankly, I wouldn’t think Apple would want Facebook or Twitter anywhere near this.

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[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]