Back in August, the official Facebook app for iOS was updated with significant speed improvements and overall performance enhancements, courtesy the company’s decision to finally let go of its heavy reliance on HTML5 in order to rebuild the app using native code. As expected, this resulted in an improvement in the app’s ratings in the iTunes App Store, as more users opted for the official Facebook client instead of using one of the various third-party alternatives or the web interface. It’s been four long months since Android fans have been waiting for a similar update to head their way and today, Facebook has finally put an end to their wait. The official Facebook Android app has been updated in the Play Store with noticeable speed improvements, a brand new stories bar and better photo viewing. The most significant change in the entire update remains the use of native code for the app’s development, which makes it much snappier and way less annoying, especially while switching back and forth between various screens and features. More to follow.
While the app’s overall UI remains more or less the same as it was prior to the update, things have changed drastically in terms of functionality. The impact of the new code is evident in virtually every aspect of the app, including the (improved) loading times of notifications, photos and Timeline content, as well as the dedicated sidebar.
A new Stories Bar has been introduced that works akin to Twitter’s unread items counter; the app now automatically keeps checking for new stories from your friends in the background every few moments, and provides you with a total count of unread items on top. This way, you don’t have to manually refresh the app’s content by using the pull-to-refresh gesture.
Another impressive addition in the update is the ability to swiftly launch photos with just a tap. Previously, tapping a photo from the Timeline first opened another screen containing an enlarged view of the image with the action bar and comments displayed at the bottom, and tapping the enlarged thumbnail finally allowed you to view the photo in full-screen. All that changes now with the latest update, as each photo is now opened directly in full screen with the action bar visible at the bottom.
In the earlier versions of the app, tapping the friend request, messages or notifications button at the top displayed a compact popup window. This view has also been changed in the update, as you are now presented with an enlarged window for each of the three options.
If you haven’t yet received the update on your Android device (or don’t have the app installed and want to give it a try), hit the link provided below to head over to the app’s Play Store page.