Released four weeks ago, Facebook’s new iPhone and iPad apps have proven a hit: The average rating jumped from 1.5 stars to more than 4 stars on iTunes store, and users are raving about the improvement in speed when compared to Facebook’s previous HTML5 app. As in all things Facebook, though, users have complaints and see room for improvement.
- Better Photo Display: The app's faster speed allows Facebook to do more with photos, which includes making more use of the screen space in both versions of the iOS app. They made “a few very good design decisions too,” said Richard Beck of app developer Digital Possibilities. “Facebook has really honed their photograph display process so it plays very well on iOS, going full screen, nice popovers with fluid, interesting animation and large touch targets.”
- Seamless Switchover: Facebook kept cosmetic changes to a minimum, and that made the switchover seamless for many users. Jim McKeeth, a developer with RemObjects Software, said the minimal changes to the display help further accent that the app is “noticeably faster and easier to work with.”
- A Better Advertising Platform: Users may not like to hear that they’ll soon be seeing more ads on the iPhones and iPads, but that’s good news for shareholders and advertisers looking to tap into Facebook’s massive user base. Facebook is already seeing double the newsfeed consumption as a result of the upgrade, according to Mobiquity President Scott Snyder. “The faster/more responsive the app, the more content is consumed and the more ads that can be served,” Snyder said.
The (Potentially) Bad
There were no privacy changes as a result of the app, but that hasn’t stopped iPhone and iPad users from complaining about perceived privacy infringemements. Snyder said the increased connectivity may be feeding into the increased perception of privacy issues.
“Users are more likely to gain access to Facebook via mobile, presenting more opportunities to gather location and other personal information that could present potential risks,” he said.
Facebook spokeswoman Alison Schumer said in an email that location sharing is a two-step, opt-in process in the iOS apps. Even after opting in, users can turn off location sharing on a message-by-message basis by un-clicking the location icon in the composer for individual messages, or by turning it off for all conversations by going to their device’s Settings App and then clicking Location Services.