Facebook released a major update to its iOS app last month, transforming the slow and stress-inducing app into a snappy, decent one. I've always wondered why the world's largest social network, with close to a billion active users, couldn't get its mobile application right. The company has finally decided to right this wrong, even if it has to build the new iOS app from scratch, using native code instead of HTML 5.
The updated application may not be the best of its class but compared to the earlier nightmarish product, the new app is something worth celebrating, at least for iOS users.
Of course, the question from the other side of the mobile community is: "Where's the update for its Android app?"
Facebook Frustration, Android Style
Facebook's Android app is similarly frustrating. If it's on its way, why did Facebook choose to update iOS first? Whatever the reason, it's almost impossible that they did it just to spite Google. They have every reason to build a superior mobile app on their rival's platform.
Being a Google-made platform, most, if not all, Android users are using Google services, including but not limited to Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps and, more importantly, Google Plus. In fact, the Google Plus app is now being bundled as a pre-installed app on select devices, such as the Nexus 7.
Even if it's unlikely that users would migrate to another social network because Facebook is unable to provide an effective, fun mobile experience on Android, they may use a lesser app less often, making a Facebook disadvantage even more significant.
As it is with most free services, it's not an easy task to strike a balance between user experience and generating revenue. By greatly improving its Android app, Facebook may gain an edge in ad placements.
Business Insider says Facebook is so anxious to upgrade its Android app that it's forcing employees to use an Android smartphone, so they can experience just how awful their app is for themselves. It's a pretty drastic step, but if that's what it takes to make the change, good for Facebook.
Facebook Forces Employees
Photo: JD Hancock