Skip to main content

What would you change about the Facebook app?

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 (opens in new tab).

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?

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

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.

86 Comments
  • What would I change? The reason I don't use the stupid Facebook app and only log in via Safari (using a specific bookmark) is the app ALWAYS defaults to "Top Stories". There's no way to make it default to "Most Recent". To get "Most Recent" it's 2 screen presses away and when it's unloaded from memory, back to "Top Stories". I ABSOLUTELY AND COMPLETELY REFUSE TO USE IT UNLESS THIS IS FIXED. So yeah, THAT'S WHAT I'D CHANGE.
  • That is the SOLE reason I gave up the app in favor of a link to the web. It just has become more and more unable each update.
  • Hey, grammar nazi here. it should be more and more 'unusable' each update. And i couldn't agree more. Deleted app = less ads + longer battery life.
  • There's a third-party app called Friendly+ which allows this. It's web based but includes notifications as well.
  • I would add a "Clear App Cache" button. Also the same for Twitter. Ideally this would be part of the Usage settings in iOS but, well... I have a 16GB device, and I hate that those two take up a combined space of 700+MB after merely a month or so of usage. Seriously, give us a way to do that without having to uninstall/reinstall the apps.
  • Better yet, have it manage its resources better. Then it's automatic like it ought to be.
  • Amen on the app cache!!! Sent from the iMore App
  • Put Messages back in it, and let me view my timeline by most recent
  • Exactly this. I deleted the Facebook App when they separated Messages because I hated bouncing back and forth between apps. And just show me things in the order that they are posted, and ALL OF THEM. I don't have a million people in my friends list so it is manageable. It is interesting how things pop back to the top when a friend has commented on something, but some things keep popping back up to the top every time that happens. No. If I commented on something, a simple notification when someone else comments on it is fine, but it does not need to perpetually pop back on top.
  • I echo the first comment. If the Facebook apps didn't default to Top Stories, and arbitrarily scroll me to the top of the feed, it would an enjoyable experience. Since Facebook as a company has made a decision to favor their own need to be profitable (not complaining about that) over the usability of the service, it has definitely been a loser in my book, if it wasn't for its near ubiquitousness at this point for all things social, I would have closed my account years ago.
  • Most Recent. most Recent. Most Recent. When I set my news feed to Most Recent do not change it w/o my permission to Top Stories!!! I do not give a flip about top stories. I want Most Recent. Hands down the Top annoyance I have with the app.
  • Yea, once they got draconian about Most Recent, the service became useless instantly. I like knowing that the things at the top of the stream are the most recent. I know they do it because it's a nice way to get people to spend more time in the app or on their site, but during the day it's a productivity killer - not to mention it's incredibly annoying having to remember to change the view overtime you use the app. I don't think anyone at Facebook cares about "User Experience." I *want* to use Facebook, but I just can't bring myself to go back. The User Experience is so bad, so frustrating, so time-wasting that it just isn't worth the effort to try. Also, their apps are too annoying when asking for information. Like Messenger asking to share contacts with Facebook, among other things.
  • Not taking up so much memory on my ipad and Iphone.... It has gotten to the point where I've had to delete the app because it drains my battery so fast... Now I just access it either through Firefox or Safari...
  • Preference to show “most recent” by default.
    Never lose my place.
    Support the system share sheet.
  • TURN OFF STUPID F'N "LIKE" NOTIFICATIONS!!!!!!!
    Turn on notifications for Events that I f'n created!
    When I tap a video to listen and video, it should start over.
    And fix the f'n volume dropout in every single video on Facebook (not just the app). Sent from the iMore App
  • I think we've covered the preference for 'Most Recent' vs. 'Top Stories' :D I will go with support for the system share sheet as well -- it's annoying as hell to see a story you want to read later, copy the link, open Pocket, add to Pocket -- when you know if FB just used the system share sheet you'd be done in two taps.
  • Stop refreshing the feed when I looking at it. It makes it impossible to figure out what I was just reading. And the audio bug. Man that one is awful. I avoid tapping on videos just so it doesn't decrease my system volume (only fixed by closing the app). All that said, the FB app is immensely better than it used to be.
  • This! Especially when I try to press like and the status disappears before I press the button.
  • 1- I'd fix that cache issue... It's unacceptable for an app to cache 2GBs of useless content...
    2- I'd fix that battery drain, Facebook is among the most battery heavy apps...
    3- make default top stories/recent stories in settings.
  • That sums it up for me too. Sent from the iMore App
  • Fletohergull, you have nailed it. This is totally unacceptable and Zuck's really should know better. Due to the battery drain, I have stopped using the App.
  • Let me set my news feed to most recent by default. That's the first change I would like to see.. Sent from the iMore App
  • Use the Facebook paper app! It always goes to most recent, no ads, no friend suggestions, no game info. You don't have to use the news stories. Just remove that part. Not sure why people don't use t. It also still has messenger built in.
  • U_U I forgot about paper. Sent from the iMore App
  • Paper is not all that popular because the app is still only available on the US app store and nowhere else. Can you create an Apple US ID and get it that way? Of course. But you have to know about it first and the majority of people do not.
  • Yes you can. I live in Vancouver and created a US account and got Paper. Pretty good app actually Sent from the iMore App
  • He said of course. He answered his own question, because the question was rhetorical. And most people aren't going to create a completely different Apple ID just to get an app that is basically a replica of what they already have, with a tweaked user interface. The Facebook Paper app is okay. Nothing amazing. I wish Facebook had Google+'s UI/UX, or Google+ had Facebook's user base. Not that I care more than one about the other, but Facebook simply needs to get some people to come in and revamp the site, and not care too much about the silent minority that is prone to whining about any and everything that changes.
  • I've never heard of the Paper app. That is probably why it isn't popular - no marketing.
  • It's really cool, but only for iPhone. I tried to use it on my iPad, but only optimized for iPhone.
  • I would optimize it so that it doesn't drain my battery life to nothing Sent from the iMore App
  • Dump the cache! The app just grows and grows to the point where I have to delete and reinstall it monthly to clear the cache. It's ridiculous!
  • 3 things:
    1) Let me choose multiple groups of friends when selecting who to share with (right now you can only pick one group to share with and one group not to share with). This is the most frustrating.
    2) Respect the Most Recent setting all the time. I don't want algorithms to pick Top News).
    3) Implement the Paper "Flipboard" style settings to view friend updates. I love this feature. Sent from the iMore App
  • It seems that Facebook only lets you pick one group of friends to share with (like Close Friends or Acquaintances) but you can now choose many groups to exclude using the Except radio buttons. So yes you can limit groups and then be able to share but it should be easier... Sent from the iMore App
  • Landscape mode for viewing and typing . Filter notifications so that you can view only those where someone has replied to you, mentioned you, commented on a status that you commented on , etc. Filter out 'shares' where shared comes from another service or web site. A lot of apps auto share junk and I have to unfollow the person or deal with a bunch of junk notifications. More levels of following , right now there is frequent, normal, and do not follow. I think we need one more level to have a good number of options .
  • I would like to open links in safari. Instead of its own. Maybe that can be done now, I'll go check settings. Sent from the iMore App
  • Everything most people would change about the app is stuff they are NEVER going to change, because: money. So the exercise is a bit silly to begin with. - get rid of the advertisements and all the persistent (paid for) marketing of celebrities and causes
    - stop pestering me for personal information by lying about it being "essential" to get better service.
    - let me order the news feed the way *I* want to see it, not the way it's best for advertisements
    - stop lying to your customers in general Most importantly: Stop ALL the massive censorship, which is based entirely on the particular morals of a small Christian subset of the United States population. I don't ever want to even *visit* a backward place like the USA, I certainly don't want to be force-fed their old-fashioned Christian morality. Censorship should only be based on protecting against actual HARM, not just something that someone doesn't "care for" or "doesn't want to see." We all have things we don't want to see, and we all have the ability not to look on our own.
  • Without ads, mobile would be worthless to them. You do know Facebook is a company and not a charity, right?
  • What would I change about the Facebook app? Well, considering it's always going to be shit, I'd like them to allow third-party applications, like we have Tweetbot for Twitter, that way I wouldn't have to use this pathetic excuse of an application
  • None. I just stopped using it. Twitter has usable messaging now, Photo and Video Upload, and doesn't require me to install ~200MB worth of apps on my device. Also, I use my smartphone less (and in less offensive places and situations) now that Facebook is off of it, which is a great thing. Splitting off into multiple apps (which require a ton of space, by the way) and the inability to display things by "Most Recent" by default are why I couldn't really find use for the service. What their Algorithm picks is often wrong, in that you miss things that you'd otherwise see and want to see when you switch to Most Recent, but it's incredibly exhausting doing this every single time you open the app. Twitter doesn't have that issue. It takes up far less space, makes following people extremely easy, and the messaging functionality is more accessible, works well, and less creepy (doesn't constantly whine and ask me to stream my contacts to it continuously). I don't keep a large social network. I try to do most of my networking in person these days. It's much more enjoyable and rewarding.
  • It's such a battery suck! My iPhone life has improved SO MUCH after I DELETED the app. Now I just check Facebook the same way I do on my Mac, with my browser...
  • Put messages back I. The Facebook app. Retarded that I have to have a separate app for it. Use to just use the mobile site for it when I did get a message. Can't even do that anymore.
  • I hate how messages need their own app or plugin. I would love for messages to be reintegrated into the main app with no additional required components. Sent from the iMore App
  • I have been using Paper since they took Messenger out of the FB app. I'd like it back, and I'd also like the FB app to resemble Paper more. But that's ok, it makes me use it less now. That's fine.
  • I have no idea what Paper is . What does it do?
  • Just look it up in the App Store. It's actually made by Facebook. It's really good.
  • Anything software related is fixable. The biggest problem with Facebook is its business model. As long as users are the product whise data are sold to advertisers without compensation to the users then there is a problem. So, what would I like to see? A user account ad free and free from content sales. Otherwise, it's dead to me.
  • How would they make money, then?
  • I would like to see copy and paste come to the app.
  • Such a crappy app for such a huge company running it. Sent from the iMore App
  • Anyway I would love to be able to share anything from the app to any other app. Including sharing a link on to messages. Sent from the iMore App
  • What would you change about the Facebook app?
    It's existence.
  • Battery usage!! The damn thing is a behemoth and just swallows battery even with auto play etc turned off. Sent from the iMore App
  • I want to be able to add links to the Reading List. Until then I just use Facebook in Safari.
  • A video player that works.
    4G and 70mb wifi.... Still stops working when I change video quality to HD. Sent from the iMore App
  • Stop changing our settings after every update. Facebook won't listen to any of these suggestions. Zuckerberg just wants to control the communications of the world. Sent from the iMore App
  • I still don't like how there's a button on the bottom for the messenger app. Every time I get a message/notification it appears on the messenger app and on the Facebook app. Then, even after checking the message in its own app, there's still the badge on the Facebook app and on the little messages icon on the bottom bar. When I click it to get rid of it, it brings me back to the messages app to show me the message I already saw. Ugh! Sent from the iMore App
  • My Gawd! That's easy. I would link the size of the font with the setting in iOS's settings. That text is WAYYYYYY too damn small. So hard for my middle aged eyes to read.
  • If I could change anything on the app it would be the fact that it defaults to top stories. While some may like that, I don't! I think we should have the option to set either top stories or most recent as or default view. Other than that I am happy with the app Sent from the iMore App
  • - More granular and consistent notifications.
    - Ability to set 'Most recent' as default and not have it change back to 'Top stories' all the time (as well as on desktop).
    - Less of a battery hog. Even with background refresh turned off, FB still accounts for about 40-50% of my battery usage each day due to 'background activity' (I scroll the newsfeed may be 4-5 times a day, so not exactly heavy usage).
    - Ability to add external links to the Saved section (which I use every single day).
  • I'm not even using the app anymore. I just use FB on Safari so that messages and FB are kept together and I can send articles to Safari reading list. Change those two things and I'll download the app again.
  • I would probably use FB again if it would not default to Top Stories. Why can't I choose how I want to view my own timeline? Most Recent please! Until then, I'm done with FB.
  • Stopped using the app when messages was split out. It works fine on the browser and you can open background articles easily.
    To get me back to the app would take a one-app model, paper style design and less battery waste. Sent from the iMore App
  • I agree to the 'one-app' model and less battery waste, but Paper was a big deal breaker for some of us who have lot of 'active' friends on Facebook.
  • I'd make it stop f*cking spying on us all...
  • Just use Google+ (no sarcasm intended). it has almost all things people are looking to 'fix' in Facebook app. (Minus Google and their data spiders).
  • I stopped using the app the moment they pulled messages.
  • I am sure that they wont listen...but control on font size and all for most recent instead of missing some post they are not top stories to FB but to mee at lease! ( no, add people to close freinds is not what I want, just bring "Most Recent") also let me select "who can't see this" rather than have to jump to desktop to change it!!
  • First, fix crashes around the photo picker. I've synced 40K photos, and perhaps 150 photo albums, to my phone. With this many photos, the Facebook app crashes 5 seconds after accessing the photo picker - but only for a post. It does not crash when adding a photo in comments. Please fix the crash. I've filed bugs twice with Facebook to no avail, but maybe they'll read this forum. Second, I echo the request for a Most Recent setting, that lists stories in chronological order. And make the setting sticky, so I don't have to change it after each launch. Third, I echo the request to pull Messages back into the Facebook app. Fourth, in Messages, emojis send innediately, without requiring the enter key. Not good. Emoji buttons should populate the comment text field, requiring return to send.
  • I would like to have messages back in the app and I would like for the newsfeed to default to most recent. I'm also not feeling how invasive the app is in regards to privacy. My sons have a friend who goes to another school. They aren't friends with him on Facebook. I have the names of the friend's parents in my contacts. I'm no friends with them on Facebook. One day FB randomly asks me if I know their daughter. Wtf?! I don't know if the parents have profiles, but if they did, why wouldn't they be be suggested as potential friends instead of their child. I think I'm about ready to ditch this app too and just use the mobile site. Sent from the iMore App
  • Have Facebook Home like Android has plus all of its features too Sent from the iMore App
  • I don't have Facebook on any mobile devices. I gave up Facebook entirely. A while ago I might add. The reason being: I wouldn't mind giving them my all my personal identification info for their records, like my name, address, phone number, even my credit card number! But please, on the Facebook front (especially Facebook!) let me use a pseudonym. I don't mind giving iMore my real name AND picture for comments. The subject matters here are benign.
  • I want them to show the most recent posts, not just the top posts Sent from the iMore App
  • I SO agree with you! Thanks for pointing this out.
  • Check out Friendly+. This allows you to change this behaviour. I won't go back to an official app until this comes back..
  • facebook was my idea in 1998. i want my share from it mark, you know you got the idea from dee (Me)!!!!!!
  • As a teenager I gave up Facebook a long time ago ( the majority of my friends did the same ) because the Facebook app just doesn't get mobile right, Instagram ,snapchat & twitter are so simple, the content is so clear, simple and accessible. The top stories are extremely annoying, you always feel like you are missing something. The follow/unfollow option recently introduced, is a great idea though because Facebook is now more like a contact list which is more relevant as you get older but if Facebook really wants people to be active and to check regularly on the long-term they need to find a way to divide your connections ( circles on G+ were actually a really good idea ), who wants all his relatives to see his party pictures.
    In conclusion, I think they should redesign the posts in the Instagram way and make better sharing system.
  • I sure hope everyone's answer is "Make Recent the News Feed default".
  • I'll add to the chorus of "Most Recent" sorting in my timeline. I'd also like to understand what drives the news feed in the iPad app. This is the section in the right sidebar above the Trending section. Mine has picked up news from my hockey team, but only about half the stories are relevant to my team. Would like to be able to either fine tune the news stream or turn off.
  • I've been saying this for a couple of years now (since they took it away), we need landscape typing back! I hate having to use the web version, but at least you can turn it...
  • I don't know exactly what to change but it needs to be less of a battery hog for sure. I don't even use it now. I use a shortcut to the mobile website.
  • I want links to go to Safari. I know they let it happen with the Facebook app on Android. Had the option to allow links to open with your default browser.
  • I rarely use it cause it's just not user friendly at all.
  • It's amazing just how bad the native Facebook continues to be. Obviously Facebook does not care at all about being a user-friendly experience to you. I have not upgraded my Facebook app since just before they separated Messages out of it (at least a year and a half ago now, if not 2 years). I don't care if I'm missing any particular features (it doesn't seem like I am, especially based upon comments here). And I will continue to refuse to upgrade.
  • I want the option to only see original content by my friends. I don't want to see any 'likes' unless my friend also commented on it. Sent from the iMore App
  • I would like Facebook to build in some usage controls so that the app tells you when you've spent more time than you'd like using it, and even blocks access beyond a certain point. Facebook is addictive and I think they should at least help those of us who want to limit themselves to being light users.
  • I'd like Apple Watch support and be able to view the app in landscape view.