Keeping up with friends is about to get twice as fast for the millions of people using Facebook's famously slow iOS app. The newest version of the app, for iPhone and iPad, hits the App Store today and promises a mobile experience that's twice as fast as the previous version. The new version speeds up the Facebook mobile experience to make everything from scrolling through your News Feed and photos to simply starting up the app a bit smoother.
Facebook's woebegone iOS users have long complained about the app's sluggish load times and frequent crashes, which have helped it garner a measly two out of five stars in the App Store. Facebook, of course, hasn't turned a deaf ear to the complaints, but explains the delays to this latest version were unavoidable because it chose to rebuild the entire mobile app from scratch. Now, the Facebook app runs on the same programming language Apple uses for its iOS operating system, which could be good news in the form of better, more frequent updates.
In addition to faster load times for news stories and photos, the new version of the app also also includes some other minor updates. Messenger, which was previously its own, much-higher rated standalone app, is now built into the general Facebook app. Photos now appear as full-screen images, much as they would appear in your iPhone's Camera Roll, and you can now swipe up while on a photo to return to the main page. A "Sort" feature lets you sift through the stories in your News Feed by Top Stories and Most Recent. And iPad users can now view Timeline.
As CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted during Facebook's first earnings call as a public company, "Facebook is the most used app on pretty much any mobile platform." And an increasing percentage of Facebook users are going mobile-only—currently about 20% of some 543 million use only the mobile app. A speed increase is sorely welcome right about now, not only so Facebook can mollify antagonized users, but also so it can continue to lure advertisers to its mobile platform through new products such as the mobile ads for apps it recently introduced.
[Image: Flickr user Asim Bharwani]