The Android 2.3.3 update that began hitting Nexus S phones this week is notable not for what it provides, but for what it is not allowing.
Google is using the update to apply platform rules that were in place but not reinforced. In a nutshell, Google is restricting the official Facebook application from integrating its contacts with the Android Contacts application. As Google put it, consumers could be confused into thinking they can export these contacts should they decide to do so.
It's no secret that Google and Facebook see each other as competitors who are slowly infringing on each other's spaces. While Google has a desire to keep data free and allow portability to and from devices, Facebook likes the walled garden approach. This will only become more obvious with phones like the ChaCha and Salsa coming to market with deeper Facebook integration.
So is this update the start of an ugly war that will play itself out in public? I doubt it. This is not a sweeping change that affects everyone, nor does it look like Google will stand in Facebook's way of playing nice. As indicated by a company statement, Facebook is free to use the same contacts integration as any other developer.
Custom experience like HTC's Sense UI and Motoblur appear to already be working with the rules, so don't look for changes there, either. In the end, this just sounds like Google no longer wanting to give Facebook a free pass on pure Google devices.