Facebook for Android review


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Lucky iPhone users have been enjoying the benefits of having an officially-sanctioned Facebook application for some time now.

Sadly, Android supporters have had no such luck – although there are programs available on the Android Marketplace that purport to be affiliated with the popular social networking portal, they’re merely poor-quality middle men interfaces that do little more than display information from the standard site in a manner that is slightly more palatable when viewed via your mobile phone’s display.

Thankfully, those dark days are now at an end – after what feels like a lifetime of waiting, Facebook for Android is with us. While it hasn’t been produced by Facebook itself (Google is the company responsible for this release) it does appear to have the official blessing of the popular website. But has it been worth the long and arduous wait?

That really depends on what you’re expecting from such an app; those of you that have experienced the robust nature of the latest iPhone version will probably come away disappointed, but long-suffering Android-owning Facebook addicts are likely to come away with a broad smile on their careworn faces.

Naturally, Facebook on any mobile device is always going to be a reduced experience when compared to viewing the site on a proper computer, but the Android version does feel a little more restrained than you might imagine. After entering your log-in details you’re instantly dropped onto your news feed, which contains updates from people on your friends list.

From this opening screen you can also instantly update your status, which is handy as it’s probably one of the popular aspects of the entire Facebook site.

To access other options you have to press the phone’s menu button – but don’t go expecting a massive list of choices, because this app has been designed to grant access to only the most vital areas of the site.

For example, you can quickly peruse your wall to check on comments people have left or items you’ve posted yourself. Another option is to take a photo and upload it to one of your Facebook albums. You can also choose to upload a photo that you’ve taken previously.

In addition to this, there are a few interesting settings to tinker with. It’s possible to enable “shake” control to refresh your news feed (which might leave some dedicated Facebook users with repetitive strain injury) but by far the most indispensable option is the ability to enable notifications of certain events.

This is one area where Facebook for Android scores points over its iPhone sibling; because of the nature of the Android platform you can run the application in the background and tell it to inform you of activity on your Facebook account – such as people commenting on your posts, adding you as a friend, sending you messages, and so on.

At the time of writing this functionality isn’t available on the iPhone, because Apple doesn’t like you running more than one program at a time – so that’s at least one thing that Android owners can be reasonably smug about. What’s more, Facebook for Android also comes with a widget which can be dropped onto your home screen. Using this, you can instantly update your status without even having to open up the application itself. It also displays the latest items from your news feed.

Sadly, other elements of this program are a little lacking in comparison. For example, while you can leave comments, it’s not currently possible to sent direct messages to people. It’s also disappointing that you can’t actually search for people or even investigate your list of friends using this software; also, when viewing photos we noticed that the app simply connects to the internet and shows you the image in the browser, rather than dragging the data directly from the Facebook servers.

While the lack of deeper functionality is slightly irksome, it’s hardly a deal-breaker and there’s a chance that extra options will be added in future updates (as has been the case the slowly-evolving iPhone version).

As such, Facebook for Android is very much a watered-down affair which offers limited access to the site, but one could argue that it’s exactly what it needs to be – a quick, compact and concise way of interacting with your friends and relatives that doesn’t require you to be sat next to a computer.

Facebook info

Ease of use:[[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”thumbnail_60x60″,”fid”:”21627″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”60″,”width”:”60″}}]]

Platform: Google Android

Cost: Free

Version: 1.0.1

Developer: Google

Website/Demo: Facebook website

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