Fast Company

fBook Joins Social Media Lineup on Android Market

When it comes to mobile computing, all anyone really wants is access to their email and the Web. But more and more, people want access to social media tools, and developers are making that happen on Android both smoothly and quickly. Here are my top seven, including a long-awaited Facebook app.

Since first writing about, "A Week Inside T-Mobile's G1," I've had a fun time setting up apps from Android's Market on my phone. In fact, that's that best part of the phone, having the ability to access apps that enable you to actually do something other than make a call.

MySpace Mobile was available on the device pretty much out the gate. And initially, its functionality was somewhat awful. Still, the good folks over in the Android community praised it for at least being first out the gate and allowing you to do some of what you can do on the Web.

imeem Music for Android wasn't far behind, and though clunky at first, it was the first full-fledged music application available for the device. Not all of the social networking features are available as they are on the site, but at least the application ties in with the Amazon store avaialbe on the device allowing users to purchase music with just a click.

Another early social media entrant on Market was iSkoot for Skype, an application that works just like Skype does on your computer. You can IM and call people directly from your mobile phone.

The next social media app on the Android Market that I noticed was twidroid, the first Twitter application available for Android powered phones. Like the rest, it was clunky at first, but it has improved greatly in its latest release. It's getting to the point that it works well enough to not have to use the mobile Web version of Twitter any longer. Other Twitter apps followed, but they weren't nearly as good. So it's probably a waste of time to even name them.

Then there's aLastFM player that provides integration with last.fm, enabling you to stream music from your favorites, tags, or via artist search. Everything you play on your phone automatically scrobbles to your last.fm profile and you can even love tracks. The bad: it often hangs, but otherwise it makes for great radio. Of course it only works well if you're on the 3G network or WiFi, but unfortunately either of those settings will soon choke the life out of your battery charge.

meebo IM for Android launched recently, and it hasn't been all that impressive. Former Sidekick users have complained about it signing them out of IM services and timing out. They've also complained about not being able to sign into multiple services all at once. Considering the IM app that came with the phone -- at least the ones for AIM, MSN, and Yahoo -- suck pretty badly, perhaps meebo can step its game up here and become the ultimate solution. Fortunately, the GTalk app that came with the G1 works pretty well, and it should considering the device is tied to your Google account.

It's great that all of this social media has come to Android, but after the release of MySpace, the anticipation was high for a Facebook app. Facebook hasn't made any moves to develop an app, so Next Mobile Web has created fBook instead.

fbook-screen

I just downloaded fBook, and I have to say that I'm quite pleased with its overall design and funtionality, even more than any of the other apps that I've been using on the phone since its release.

After logging in, you're taken to a page on which you see the same tabs that you see on Facebook on the Web (as you can see in the image above). It loads smoothly, and so far I've been able to reply to message in my "Inbox," read my "News Feed," look at my "Requests," update my "Status."

There's been a lot of talk about the Netbook being the gotta-have-it gift for Christmas, but I'm thinking that a smartphone just might do the trick. We'll just have to forget that the battery life on most of these devices suck, especially the G1. But that's another blog post for a later date.

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