9/30/08 – Facebook v2.0 released.
From the iTunes’ page: “Facebook for iPhone makes it easy to stay connected and share information with friends. Use your iPhone to start a conversation with a Facebook Chat, check your friends’ latest photos and status updates, look up a phone number, or upload your own mobile photos to Facebook while on the go.”
Facebook works a lot like other apps that came pre-loaded on your iPhone (i.e. iPod, iTunes, etc.). The bottom black nav-bar allows you to switch between functions.
Home: A summary page that keeps you up to date on your friends.
Your profile: A simplified version of your profile page that allows you to view your wall, photos, mini-feed and personal information.
Friends: A searchable list of your friends, allowing you to easily locate your secret crush’s profile (assuming she’s your friend).
Chat: A mobile version of Facebook chat that operates like iChat and the iPhone’s SMS program.
Inbox: Allows you to view, reply to and compose Facebook messages with ease.
Additional features include photo viewing, which allows you to flick through photos rather than clicking on links to move through albums. The photo system also integrates a unique comment feature, allowing you to reply to and follow running commentary about your ridiculous haircut. Or about why you’re jumping around like a ballerina. Or both.
I have to admit, upon first using this latest update, I was pleasantly surprised by the program’s ability to take advantage of some of the iPhone’s native system applications. The Facebook chat function (pictured below) is smooth and enjoyable.
It is easy to use and, although I encountered a couple of errors (some undelivered messages and others that didn’t appear on my screen after I sent them) a chat sequence did allow me to effectively taunt my cousin about how my phone could Facebook chat and hers could not (cousin: “that doesn’t work on the blackberry!”).
You can also easily upload photos taken on your iPhone, or others that you may have previously had on your phone’s photo library (although there is no mechanism for managing those photos once uploaded).
But in terms of being functional as an on-the-go version of Facebook that keeps you in touch with recent developments in your network of friends, this version struggles and the web-based version (iphone.facebook.com) is far better.
You don’t get Facebook notifications, a more recent development for the desktop experience, but nevertheless extremely relevant for on-the-go usage. Has someone written on my wall? Commented on my posted item? Have I been tagged in new photos? Yeah, no idea.
In fact, a closer look at the “Home” tab exposes it as nothing more than a list of my friends’ most recent status updates. One of my friends “is sleepy.” Another “is in need of a vacation from everyone.”
That’s cool and all, but where are my notices about broken engagements or new “open relationships?” And how do I know who has responded to my shameless “pokes” or has challenged me to a Scrabulous bout? And what about those lifesaving birthday reminders?
As a regular Facebook user, I think I speak for others when I say that calling this the “Home” tab is bordering on outrageous (Facebook app “Home” tab pictured below).
While the iphone.facebook.com page doesn’t offer every single feature listed above, it does come close and its home page is much more sophisticated than that of the iPhone app. It offers a newsfeed that shows me recent friend updates and notifications, there is also an events tab and the site also lets me know of new friend requests (website “Home” page pictured below).
I guess one could argue that updates on a friend’s current status might be the most relevant for on-the-go facebooking, and I’m not disregarding that. If I’m wondering what a friend is up to right this minute, why not check his status? In fact, doing so just let me know that one of my buddies is going surfing tomorrow. That’s useful. If I want to make a fool out of myself in a wetsuit, I’ll know to call him. But if the iphone.facebook.com page can offer me much more, why doesn’t the iPhone app?
Another disappointment of the iPhone app is its inability to search for people who are not your friends (the web-based version can do it). So if you’re really creepy and you want to befriend someone immediately after shaking her hand at a trade conference, you wont be able to find her in a search function that is limited only to your friends.
Then there are the photos. While the viewing system is better than that of the web-based Facebook, if you are trying to view your friend’s photos, you can only see those that he has added himself. So if he has been tagged in photos, those wont come up. If you click on “view more photos of Bob,” you’ll only be shown his former profile pictures and not every single photo that he has been tagged in (as is the norm at your desktop).
Bottom line: This app is decent and will stay on my iPhone, but I’ll use it only for chatting and message correspondence. If I want to really check up on what my friends are up to, I’ll use iphone.facebook.com, or I’ll log in at my pc.
An effective and easy to use tool for chatting with Facebook friends, responding to messages on-the-go, and viewing walls. For all other Facebook functions, the web-based versions are much better.