Ah, the Facebook app. Ridiculed by users for being too slow, it's found itself on many a s***t list – even though millions continue to download it every month. All we want is a full-featured app that doesn't take ages to navigate, am I right?
A few days ago, Facebook announced an update for their app, claiming they've improved loading speeds and usability. They also released an update for Facebook Messenger, adding a new feature which allows you to leave voicemails for your friends. Are either worth updating? Read on to find out.
My immediate impression of the new Facebook app was that it loaded my news feed much more quickly than previous iterations. Scrolling was a breeze. It appears that the app now loads status updates before pictures, so that you can scroll easily even when you have a slow connection. One annoying thing about this is that profile pics don't appear immediately, and instead you see a placeholder picture while the content is loading. That said, you'll be spending less time staring at the dreaded "loading circle" while waiting for new content to load.
Facebook now allows you to pick and choose with which network you share your status updates, just like on the full-featured website. Now you can say something inappropriately personal to your friends without your boss seeing your profanity-laced update and firing your ass. This is nice, but I can't believe the app didn't already allow you to do this. The Google+ app has been allowing you to pick and choose with which circles you share content ever since it was first launched. Welcome to 2011, Facebook.
The most-hyped new feature is not for the Facebook app but for Facebook Messenger. It seems Facebook is trying to go after Google Talk by releasing a voice-messaging feature. This sounds pretty innovative until you realize just how many apps already allow you to do this – including Skype, WhatsApp, the aforementioned Google Talk and many others. Nonetheless, since almost a billion people are on Facebook, it's notable whenever the company unrolls a new feature.
I used the voicemail feature to send a voicemail to a colleague and it was an…interesting…experience. What's weird is that you have to hold down a button while you talk. Facebook must have thought this would help folks avoid accidentally recording long, long messages, but it forces you to hold your phone farther from your mouth.
The recording's quality was fine, and it loaded easily. I suppose this will be a helpful feature for some, although it's hardly revolutionary. Overall, Facebook mobile offerings have improved over the past few days, but they still have a long way to go.
UPDATE: As our wonderful commenter Stefan Rago pointed out, there is a faster Facebook third-party app you can download called, simply, Fast for Facebook. I'm sure you've all heard of it before, but I'm out-of-touch. Give it a try if you want a faster Facebook experience.