These days it seems everyone is on Facebook and the very definition of being social happens to be spending an obscene amount of time keeping track of (and replying to) your friends’ updates. A lot of things happen when you are on the move or go on a trip, and it’s only natural to want to share it with your tightly-knit group of pals.
Facebook for Android makes it easy to stay in touch and share memorable moments with your friends on the go. Read on to learn how the app can redefine your social life while on the move.
Facebook for Android is available for free in the Android Market. For an app that is not from the stable of Google, it supports very old OS versions. The app supports versions from 1.5 onwards. There is a catch though: some advanced features like Push notifications are supported only with versions 2.2 and above.
Upon launch you are welcomed with a screen that wants you to read a boring End User License agreement. If you really are not inclined to read pages after pages of legal mumbo jumbo, hit I agree to move ahead. Enter your login credentials to get in — or, if you do not have an account yet, the option to create one is available. The signup does not happen right from the app, though; you will be taken to the browser to complete the process.
After logging in, Facebook has put together a nice set of pointers to help you grasp the major features of the app. These tips can be found later from Application Settings if you want to look them up later.
Interface and Usage
Unlike the iOS Facebook app, this one displays your News Feed when opened, rather than the home screen with icons. Except for the smaller screen, you will not find anything missing in the app when using the news feed. Viewing comments and adding likes can be done with a single click. Comments show up in their entirety, complete with smileys, with a tiny profile pic attached to them. At the top is the “post to wall” field with an option to take a snap and share it instantly without leaving the app.
For the most part, the main screen is an exact copy of the iOS Facebook app. And that is not a bad thing at all. Facebook has a designed an interface that is elegant and unbelievably functional at the same time. It really helps to have the same familiar icons and layouts across all platforms.
One major new addition is the Android-only media slide. Images and videos shared by your friends are displayed here, and to access more of them, just swipe across the screen. Tapping on an image or video share takes you to the post where you can see all the comments and likes attributed to this post. A nice little addition!
All notifications are tucked away in the Notifications section at the bottom of the screen. Unread notifications count are displayed both in the app and on the Android home screen when the app is not open.
Managing Your Profile
Tapping the Profile icon gives access to your wall, your info page, and the photos you have uploaded. You can access writing on your wall the same way you access the news feed and hit Menu to refresh and view new posts. The Info tab displays the profile information you have last updated. It is read-only and hence cannot be edited from the app.
I really love the way all my images are presented in the app. Photos have a dedicated tab and all albums are listed in their chronological order. Images inside the album are displayed as tiny thumbnails and this screen is uncluttered and is so minimalistic. Yes, people do complain about the absence of tags but the lack of meta data is what gives this screen a serene mood. Images shown are of better quality and you can flick through albums at will.
Messages and Chat
All the messages sent and received are available from the app. The message compose window features the same three fields – Sender, Subject and Message. Suggestions show up as soon as you start typing the sender’s name and if you want, hit the Contacts icon to view the entire list of friends in the alphabetical order.
The newest feature – chat – works as advertised. All the friends who are online are displayed and if they are idle for a bit, that is displayed as well. Once you initiate a chat, the back and forth is really engaging and the conversation display is like viewing a regular IM.
Upcoming birthdays and events can be viewed from the Events category. This feature makes life a lot easier by helping us remember important dates and avoid embarrassments.
If you are member of any Facebook Groups, updates from your groups are displayed in the Groups category. Once you select a group from the list, updates from the wall and the list of members can be viewed.
Apart from these awesome features, you can also check in to the location you are visiting using the Places feature. It works like Foursquare and your friends will get to know where you are at that moment and where you have been previously. But, this feature is not available all over the world at this time.
Facebook is among one of the very few the mobile apps I don’t complain about. Everything is perfect — right from the interface to the rich set of features.
However, the Facebook app’s ability to sync with the servers is often broken. Even after reading messages, replying comments on the wall, and so on, from a desktop browser, the unread notification count hardly changes. You will have to manually sift through them again to make the red badge go away. This issue is not an isolated case for Android mobiles; it happens in the iOS app too.
Except for this quirk, the app is a total package and one can really connect with their social circle without having to open a desktop browser, even for weeks.
Facebook for Android is a free app for connecting with your friends and family while on the go.8
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