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Facebook Gains an Android Facelift

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Facebook for Android (s goog) got a long overdue update tonight (perhaps the final push was Mark Zuckerberg’s installing the Android app himself last week?), after playing second fiddle to the iOS version for far too long. The updated app gains some of the iPhone’s client look and feel, but also adds a draggable Notifications drawer and a new photo reel showing pictures and videos from friends.

The new client for Android supports more actions from the main screen. You can now respond to friend requests in the app, for example. There’s also a one-touch button to post a status update, support for Events — including RSVP in the app — and the new photo reel along the bottom. A Facebook spokesperson told me via email that the new client now supports in-app video playback that uses H.264 encoding, although I haven’t tried videos just yet. None of my friends are camera-happy today, it seems.

Android device owners that already have Facebook installed will see an update in the Android Market now. There’s still room for improvement here — I’m thinking support for Facebook chat and contact groups — but overall, the overhaul is welcome. And the Notification shade is a nice play on the native Android notifications, allowing Facebook users to be informed, but not overwhelmed with new information from their friends. After missing the fuller-featured app when I moved from iOS to Android in January, I’m ecstatic that I now have a richer Facebook experience — consider that a warning to all of my Facebook friends that I’ll be annoying them far more often now.

Many of the updates seem designed to keep users in the application longer. That’s not a bad thing — I personally prefer to stay in apps instead of bouncing out to the web for related features. Though like other Facebook mobile products, the new Android client doesn’t yet have ads, Android’s massive growing user base combined with increased engagement could make a killer platform for mobile revenue opportunities.

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19 Responses to “Facebook Gains an Android Facelift”

  1. Katherine

    I downloaded the update for the Facebook app for Android and now when I try to click on the “Friends” section, it never loads them and forces me to close. Anyone else have this issue?

    • nope, i didn’t experience this. the app works fine for me, well, slight issue with viewing notifications (sends me to the browser still and sometimes works)

      best post on the nexus one forum

  2. thanks. im trying to download facebook for android app but market is soooooo slow. tried clearing cache/data of certain apps from reading a forum post and still no luck. hopefully my download will come down soon

  3. It’s just a shame that they came so close to getting this perfect.

    The flaw is that the app does not allow the phone to sleep properly so this is a major battery killer.

    Lets hope the Facebook team jump on this and get another update out quickly otherwise there will be a lot of unhappy users.

  4. Sorry guys, I’m on a HTC Magic (Android “Cupcake” 1.6) and there’s no such “Facebook for Android” app. There’s a “Facebook App” and a “Facebook Pro” by The App Factory, “Facebook Touch”, “Facebook Plus” and many other by 3rd party — but no “Facebook for Android” by Facebook.

    Is it because I am currently in France or running Cupcake, anyone?

  5. Robb Irrgang

    It’s kind of hard to play second fiddle to an app that barely gets updated. Facebook has ignored the iPad platform and there haven’t been any new features (merely bug fixes) since Joe Hewitt left the project.

  6. on my nexus one, facebook was pre-installed so it doesn’t show up as an app previously downloaded in the marketplace. do i delete the ‘native’ facebook app and download the facebook app from the marketplace to get this update?