Facebook release new version of their iOS & Android App
Users of the Facebook Mobile App on iPhones and Android phones, and there’s around 500 million Facebook mobile users, will have noticed last night and this morning that they have a new update. Facebook have released version 5.0 of their extremely popular mobile app.
The app has been widely criticised in past for being sluggish, buggy, inconsistent, prone to crashing and lacking in functionality. Indeed if you look back through the App Store reviews for earlier versions you rarely see a positive one. As recently as May 2012 US site Mobtest noted that the average rating in the US App Store was a dismal 2 stars.
So what’s new with this version. Well, outwardly very little. What Facebook have done is completely rebuilt the app saying on their blog that “Facebook 5.0 for iOS is twice as fast as the previous version when launching the app, scrolling through news feed and opening photos in feed.”
Testing it this morning, it certainly does seem faster. I wouldn’t call it lightning fast but considering it’s previous performance it’s a definite improvement. In terms of functionality there have been some small improvements.
New stories now load with a note on your newsfeed so you don’t need to refresh to see if anything new has come up. They’ve changed the way photos are displayed. Photos now quickly pop up when you poke them and the display is cleaner. Also, rather than going to a new screen you look at comments on photos, they now pop up quickly over the photos. You are now also able to scroll down long captions and read the whole thing – the photo darkens when you do this so you can still read it. You can also now like individual comments – a feature that was oddly lacking on mobile before.
That’s the good news. Here’s the bad news.
There still does seem to be some inconsistency. When I tried to load a photo to Facebook Brand page for my film review site, it showed my profile pic in the corner and uploaded it to my personal profile. The second time I tried it still showed my personal profile pic in the corner but it uploaded to the page with the correct brand page profile. Curious.
You no longer have the option to save shared photos to your camera roll. This seems like a huge oversight to me. Also you can’t edit comments like you now can on the site, you still can’t untag yourself from a photo and you can’t edit your personal information.
I have been testing the app on an iPhone however I did see a complaint in the App Store from an iPad user who complained that the app no longer supports easy switching between multiple accounts. Similarly I don’t know if Android users have lost or gained any functionality. Please do comment if you are one and you’ve noticed any changes, negative or positive.
My biggest issue though is that you are still unable to share posts from other profiles and pages. To rebuild the app and leave out one of the most basic features of Facebook seems like a massive mis-step from a company whose focus has always been around connecting people.
All in all though, this has to be considered a step in the right direction and hopefully this is merely a start to a new improved Facebook Mobile App. As we’ve heard often lately Facebook need to start monetizing their mobile users and creating a better mobile experience for them can only help with that.
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