I love Facebook and this is a preview of the hotly anticipated Facebook for iPhone 3.0, coming soon to the iTunes App Store for iPhone and iPod touch.
Where to begin? When I first installed the app, I was frozen with anticipation. I have seen some sneak peeks on Facebook's app page, but that was it. Now with it in my hands... Let's begin by looking at the basics.
Facebook 3.0 has a brand-new redesigned home screen (see above). From here, you have access your fundamental Facebook actions such as your News Feed, Profile, Friends, Inbox, Chat, Requests, Events, Photos, Notes and Search. Notifications have been relocated to a very accessible location on the bottom of the screen that tells you the last notification you have received and the total number of new notifications. Tapping this bar brings up a notification list that is practically identical to the notifications list you have on the Web Browser. You can also tap the title bar at the top of the page to return home any time. For example, if you are commenting on a post and you are done, you can tap the word "Comments" at the top of the page and it will return you to the home screen. Tap again, and it takes you back to your comment. Nice.
The News Feed has several new features. For starters you can now "like" posts! Yes, you now have the ability to comment and like a post on Facebook for iPhone (you can also unlike too). You can also add a video (with a 3GS) and record and upload directly to Facebook from your iPhone. If a post has a Web link in it, the link will now open within Facebook to view the Web Page. You no longer have to leave the app to go to Safari, through this is an option if you want.
If you separate your friends and paged into different lists, these have also carried over into Facebook 3.0. You can easily and quick access your News Feed, Links, Pages and more from one spot.
Your Facebook Profile is now here in it's entirety! Profile pages are divided into three sections : Wall, Info and Photos. Wall remains relativity unchanged, however, Info gives you a lot of information now. For instance, when viewing another persons profile, you can see how many friends you have in common, their number of total friends and what Pages they are a fan of. Clicking on any of these choices will take you to that list. From their profile you can also send them a message, Poke them and add as a favorite on your home screen! That is right, the home screen can also be customized with your favorite friends or pages!
This section contains your typical listing of friends, but now if they have their phone number in Facebook, you are given an icon to tap next to their name. When tapped, it will display quick links for their numbers. Example: Land, Mobile, SMS. Very nice if you don't have every single friend in your address book, this is an excellent replacement! You also have your Pages here too. This is a great, quick way to access the pages you are a fan of.
The Inbox remains relatively unchanged except for the added option of Updates for your pages. If a Page uses this feature and you have it activated, you will see your favorite Page updates in the Inbox too under its own section.
Chat is another section that has not altered too much from Facebook 2.0. One of the new feature is the Online/Idle icons next to your friends so you know their status.
Not much here, any pending friend requests you have will appear on this button of the home screen with the red badge number of pending requests.
New to Facebook 3.0, events have a simple scrolling list of upcoming and past events. When you tap on an event, you enter your RSVP and see a guest list broken down into Confirmed, Maybe, Declined and Awaiting. Very nice. Do you also enjoy the Birthday feature of Facebook on your desktop that shows you when your friends have a Birthday? Well, Birthdays have been added to Events as well! Click on the Events tab and you have a whole list of your friends Birthdays divided by month.
Photos in Facebook 3.0 have had a big change. First, when you tap an album, you get a page of thumbnails like the Photos app on the iPhone. This makes it a lot easier to find photos or get an overview of an album. You can now very easily show or hide tags. Previously, it seemed that tags would appear randomly, now it is much easier. You can Like and make a photo a profile picture right from Photos!
New to the mix of Facebook 3.0 apps is Notes. When you tap on Notes, you get a listing of all of your notes on Facebook. You can edit notes and create new ones. I was curious about the note creation process on the iPhone and decided to enter some basic HTML to format my note, just like on the desktop. Know what? IT WORKED! That is right, you can add basic HTML tags to your notes and it will format the note accordingly. The only thing missing is the ability to attach a photo to your note. This new feature has me debating whether I should bother with my own traditional personal blogging and just blog from within Facebook... we are almost there...
Searching from the home screen gives you a few filters. You can search for Friends, Everyone or Pages. Typing in a name for Friends and Everyone behaves as you would expect, but the new ability to add pages is really awesome. I am using Facebook more and more for product, news and general "fan" updates. This new feature is really convenient.
Posting has one of my biggest grips addressed from the previous version of Facebook; the "Send" button (renamed to Share) has been moved to the TOP of the screen so I no longer post accidentally while typing!
Add a Favorite
Lastly, from the home screen you can add your favorite friends and pages to the home screen. You can flick to the left just like the iPhone home screen and have quick access to you the people you care about the most.
Issues and Conclusion
This is one phenomenal update to Facebook for iPhone, however, it is not without its shortcomings. To name a few, you receive an error message when you try to play a video that has been uploaded to Facebook. The error reads "Facebook Video cannot yet be played on this device". Not sure what that means, but it tells me that it will be coming in s future update. If you have posted a YouTube video to Facebook though, it will open YouTube's site in the Facebook app and you can watch the video.
I have also encountered the infamous "Error, Your comment could not be posted at this time" message. I had thought this was resolved in the last version of Facebook. I have not seen this error for quite some time.
Overall, I could not be happier. This version of Facebook is leaps and bounds better then version 2.0. The developer, Joe Hewitt, deserves kudos for his work her. Joe has also promised push notifications and other enhancements for 3.1 to be released later this year.
The promise of the iPhone is to have a mobile computer in your pocket. The iPhone is able to deliver on this promise because there are developers out there like Joe Hewitt that keep making apps better and better. Thank you Joe.
Software trainer, blogger and mobile technology enthusiast living in the suburban Midwest.