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Facebook finally fixes its freakishly slow iOS app

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You know how the Facebook app on your iPhone pretty much sucks? The social network has heard your complaints. On Thursday Facebook(s FB) rolled out a broad rewrite of the code behind the super-slow and constantly frustrating Facebook iOS app that’s intended to speed up its performance so it’s twice as fast as the current version.

The Facebook 5 update applies to Facebook’s iPhone (s aapl) and iPad apps. On its blog, Facebook said the app has been rewritten so it’ll not only open faster, but news feeds and notifications will load right away. When scrolling within the app, Facebook says friends’ updates will “appear faster than ever” and there will be banners letting you know when new stories are added.

That rewriting of the code means moving away from an emphasis on HTML5 for the iOS app, which Facebook has been relying on in order to address the needs of thousands of different devices that access Facebook. AllThingsD has the details on why Facebook chose to deliver a native iOS app with this update instead:

While the current Facebook app is predominantly HTML5-based, [Facebook iOS mobile project manager Mick] Johnson and his team gutted it and rebuilt it using the Objective-C programming language, which essentially makes better use of the iPhone hardware and focuses on the advantages of using a native application, rather than render Facebook items in the app using Web data.

This doesn’t mean that Facebook is abandoning HTML5, Johnson says. “The mobile web is still very important to us, as are all of our interfaces,” he said. Problem is, HTML5 is a technology that, while promising in the long run, isn’t able to deliver the type of speed and performance we expect right now. It’s a long bet, and something that Facebook aims to continue developing.

This is one of those updates that should have been done a long time ago. Facebook is the most-downloaded free app in Apple’s mobile app store, yet the reviews are scathing — and have been for a long time. Why is Facebook getting its act together on iOS just now? It probably has something to do with Apple(s AAPL) integrating Facebook into iOS 6, set to be released in a month or so.

Facebook didn’t leave out its Android users: updates for both iOS and Android are waiting in their respective app stores now.

42 Responses to “Facebook finally fixes its freakishly slow iOS app”

  1. I want to change the cover Photo from my Iphone. We used to be able to, with most recent update this can not be done. WHEN is this going to be FIXED?
    Not Impressed with the new update at all.

  2. As with every update, certain things are ‘repaired’ and bugs are ‘fixed’ .. But for every element that is fixed, there is also something else that was otherwise a great function, that has been adjusted or removed!
    Take, for eg; the ability to change your cover photo, that was allowed in the previous update, but with the new update, we can’t change it at all!!

    Aghhhh. Frustrating.

    • With the new Facebook update, they have left the ability to change your cover photo out!! So frustrating! We will have to wait for the next update and see if they fix it

  3. If you go to your browser & log in to FB that way, versus using the app, the camera icon is on the cover photo & you can change it from there. But you have to select a photo from one of your albums, so whatever photo you want to use, you’ll have to upload it to your wall first. I made it work this way although its inconvenient. Changed my profile photo from there too but could not adjust the thumbnail or photo size on the app or through the browser version.

  4. Cant Tag Photos,
    can’t create new albums of photos,
    can’t change cover photos,
    are all these going to be fixed???
    Posted on 28.08.2012 needs sorting before September as I’m off travelling and need all above…

    • The new update has actually removed features (which were already limited) – Removing the ability to change cover photo, create a new album or tag people made the app at least somewhat useful when on the go!

      Now it’s just pointless – good for reading and looking at photos and not much else

  5. K Harmon

    This was a much needed update for the iOS. The app definitely appears to be twice as fast as before. Love the new notification banner.

    Still waiting on that Share button.