Google said many weeks ago, that Gingerbread would be rolled out via OTA (Over The Air) updates, within weeks. A few days ago, the official Nexus Twitter channel announced that Android 2.3.3 is finally being rolled out to users of Nexus One and Nexus S. However, it will probably take several weeks before everyone gets the update.

When Gingerbread now is being rolled out to Nexus S owners, there is a significant change with regards to the Facebook integration, since contacts are no longer synced.

Until now, one of the great things about the Facebook for Android app is that it allows you to synchronize contacts from Facebook and integrate them with contacts on the phone. This allows you to get a profile picture on those of your contacts that are also on Facebook, and you get more information in your adress book about your friends Facebook activity.

When Gingerbread now is being rolled out to Nexus S this feature will be removed. Google says that until now, users could see their Facebook contacts in their adress book, but the data isn’t actually stored on the phone. Which means that if a user decide to leave Facebook or uninstall the app, the phone will loose all contacts and phone numbers from Facebook.

Here’s Google’s statement:

“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.”

It will still be possible for developers to create applications that fetch contact information from Facebook via their API and add to the contacts, but the built-in functionality through Facebook for Android will no longer work after the Gingerbread update on Nexus S. For the record, Nexus One users will not be affected.

I know of at least one Android app that can be used to sync profile pictures from Facebook with the phone contact photos, and that is SyncMyPics.

(via IDG News)