Facebook for android 2.0 is here. With the iOS app being the one to beat this software has a lot to live up to. So is 2.0 going to still be too slow, freeze, and choke on every picture you click on? Short answer is no. Here’s the longer one.
Up to now Facebook used HTML 5 to drive its android app. In the beginning this was a great idea as it greatly reduced the workload of its mobile teams and allowed them to update their mobile site and apps at the same time. This is primarily because the app was simply delivering webviews from its mobile site m.facebook.com in much the same way a browser would. This worked fantastically until 80% of the entire planet got a smartphone and a Facebook account. Once that happened the HTML 5 delivery system slowed the Facebook app to a crawl. Logging in from your phone was a slow arduous process that many times ended with a blank screen, images that took forever to load, or even an exciting memory error that tried to close the app and failed to do so. Throw in a few controls that didn’t work and you had a terrible user experience. Many people, including myself, simply put a shortcut to the website on their phone’s main desktop and skipped the app altogether. That elegant workaround kept people from throwing their phones out the window for about a year.
In August Facebook released its iOS update and the world rejoiced. IPhone users who previously hated the app couldn’t say enough good things about it. The Facebook app rating went from 1.5 stars up to four. It would seem that Apple users could get a heck of a lot more done in their wasted time with this fantastic new product. But what of android users?
Facebook 2.0 for android was released December 13. I downloaded the app early this morning and I’ve been using it throughout the day to see if this thing has the right stuff. From what I can tell so far it is an enormous upgrade from the previous version. In fact the following functions operate at least twice as fast as they previously did:
- App launch
- Timeline load time
- Control responses
- Image load time
- Comment submission
Interestingly Facebook will still be using HTML 5 on its mobile site. The company claims that it wants to help push advancements in this standard which will increase mobile browser flexibility and perhaps see a return to that protocol once it is ready for prime time.
While I have said that the Android Facebook 2.0 app is twice as fast as the previous iteration really its faster than that. With this new app as the foundation for future expansions users can look forward to a better experience as well as greater and more rapid advancements down the road. This Christmas time when you’re sharing photos and updates with your family and friends you can be sure that your holiday wishes won’t hang on a load screen or stop midway through submission due to a memory error. If you haven’t already updated your Facebook app I would recommend doing so now and have a happy holiday!