iPhone Life magazine

Social Media Report

Finally: an Official Facebook App

I live on Facebook. Seriously, I do. I’ve spent the last year writing two books about Facebook, written countless blog posts, and done tons of research on it. When I was out and about with my phone or iPad, interacting with Facebook on a browser or through a third-party app was a limiting experience. I reviewed the previously available apps for viewing Facebook in the July/August Issue of iPhone Life magazine. At that time Friendly (Free, iPad only: app2.me/3814) was my top choice.

Now we have Facebook’s own app, and I have to say, I really “Like” it. OK, I had to do that (silly Facebook pun). There are still a few minor bugs with the app, but all in all, it has a nicely designed and functional interface—especially on the iPad. This review is based on my experience using it on an iPad 1. Please go to our Facebook page (facebook.com/iphonelifemagazine) to comment on your experience with it on other devices—thanks!

Here’s what I like about it:

  • The user interface is very smooth—easy to understand—even for Boomer Geeks like myself.
  • I can filter the news feed even better than with the online filters. For example, I can filter for Pages only. You can’t do that on a computer interface at the moment.
  • It is extremely easy to post photos.
  • You can use multi-touch to enlarge or collapse images—a very nice touch.
  • It is easy to Check-in to any location.
  • It is easy to do just about everything you normally do on Facebook. 

Here’s what I’d like to see changed:

  • You can’t view the Chat interface if the iPad is in portrait orientation—that needs to change.
  • When you are trying to comment or chat, the send button is not available when you are using a Bluetooth keyboard. I wasted an hour of my life trying to figure that one out!

My wish is that these two things are resolved before this article is published. Did it happen? Let me know on our Twitter account, @iphonelife!

The user interface is smooth and intuitive

The user interface is very nice. You can slide left and right to open and close the chat column and the left navigation column. You can slide up and down to read through the news feed. You can tap a photo and it expands to fill the whole screen. Conversely, you can pinch to put it back into its place in the stream. There was only one issue that perplexed me for a while—you don’t see the Send button in the chat function unless you are using the built-in keyboard. If you use a Bluetooth keyboard, the Send button is not available.

Filtering the News Feed is an important feature

Facebook app Filtering News feedsHere’s a feature I wish Facebook would bring back to the computer interface! It is extremely easy to filter the news feed to see only Pages I have Liked, just Videos, just Events, or individual Friend Lists. Well done, Facebook. See the image for how that filter is applied.And when you click to watch a video, you can enlarge it to fill the screen with a single tap. If you pinch to shrink a video while it is playing, it continues to play seamlessly. And just like on a computer, you can continue to scan through the news feed as a video plays. You can even click on someone’s name and post something to his or her Wall while the video continues to play. I Like.

Posting and Viewing Photos

Photos really shine in this app. First, make sure you have selected the main menu icon (see image below) and you’ll see three main top navigation icons: Status, Photo, and Check In.

Here are some tips on how to enjoy photos on this app:

  • Photos on FacebookTo post a photo: tap the Photo icon and select a photo from your device’s photo gallery to post to Facebook.
  • To view your photos: swipe the whole screen left to right to reveal the left navigation menu. Tap your name in the top position and then tap Photos in the left navigation menu. Tap any of the albums, any image, and then swipe right to left to move through the album—for a manual slideshow.
  • To add a comment to a photo: when viewing an image at full-screen, tap the icon in the top right corner (see image below) and type a comment. Then tap the Send button.

Easy Easy Easy

I think the main thing to get across is that this app makes it very easy to do just about everything you would normally do on Facebook. The only drawback, as I mentioned earlier, is not being able to use the Bluetooth keyboard and see the Send button in the Comment and Chat interface—which is a vital function that needs to be addressed.

Games

I rarely play games on Facebook. I know I’m in the minority with this, but who has time to play? Anyway, there is a fairly comprehensive discussion about the Game interface with this app online right now. Do an online search for “Facebook HTML5 games” to read more.

In a nutshell, if I play Words with Friends on Facebook (facebook.com/WordsWithFriends), I will see the game name in the left navigation menu on the app. When I tap it, I should be able to stay within the Facebook app to play it. As of the time I write this, when I click the game’s name, I am taken to their native app to play, and out of the Facebook interface. Zynga’s games; FarmVille Express, Zynga Poker and Words With Friends will be the first to take advantage of the integration. By the time you read this, it should be available.phyllis@iphonelife.com.