Facebook was one of the first apps available for the iPhone and continues to be one of the most popular of all time. It not only helped pioneer social networking on mobile, but it inspired a generation of websites-as-apps, adding more and more features until almost everything you could do on Facebook.com, you could do on Facebook for iPhone.
It took Facebook a while to come to the iPad, however. After initially dismissing Apple's tablet as not-mobile, the universal version of Facebook finally shipped some 18 months later. Since then, Facebook hasn't exactly been quick about adding new Apple technologies, especially those like native share sheets and extensions that help free functionality from apps.
That there's not yet a Facebook extension for Apple Watch is perhaps easier to understand. Native apps won't launch until this fall, and figuring out exactly what people want to see on the wrist, beyond notifications, requires deep consideration.
While adding functionality hasn't always been quick, Facebook has rebuilt itself as a native app to provide for much-improved performance. The company has also removed significant functionality from the flagship app, breaking it out into separate apps, including and especially Facebook Messenger. There's also Facebook Pages Manager, FB Business, Facebook Groups, Facebook Mentions (for celebrities!), and many, many, more.
Facebook Home and Chat Heads seem to have been reigned in, and Paper, which was introduced as a new experience for Facebook, doesn't seem to have ever been extended beyond the U.S. Likewise, the double hamburger/basement menus have reduced to a more manageable tab and single chat-burger system.
Even though its been simplified and broken up, Facebook is still a monster. Calling it the iTunes of social networks wouldn't be quite right, but like iTunes it has so much functionality for some many use cases to serve so many needs, that getting one app to do it all for everyone is a nearly impossible task.
The Newsfeed alone still feels like a non-chronological random status generator, mixing what you want to see with what's in Facebook's best interests for you to see, in something stressfully best termed Schrödinger's timeline.
Overall, though, Facebook seems to be improving. We don't hear as many complaints about Facebook for iPhone or iPad as we used to, but we also don't hear a lot of praises being sung either.
So what would it take to make Facebook.app better for you? If Mark Zuckerburg asked you what you wanted to see in the next big Facebook for iPhone and iPad (or Apple Watch!) redesign, what would you tell him?
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.