You wanted it. You really, really wanted it. And now it's finally here. Facebook has just launched version 5.0 of their iOS app and it's faster.
A lot faster.
Rumors of the "entirely rebuilt" app started back in June, when we heard that the Facebook engineering team, embattled with claims of a slow, useless app, decided to build a new app on Objective-C instead of HTML-5. And today, that's what we get with v5.0.
"Today we're announcing an update to the Facebook app for iPhone and iPad that makes keeping up with friends faster and easier. Facebook 5.0 for iOS is twice as fast as the previous version when launching the app, scrolling through news feed and opening photos in feed," says Facebook. "We’ve rebuilt the app from the ground up, so now the app opens much faster and your news feed and notifications load right when you open Facebook."
Did you catch that? It's kind of about speed.
On first test, it is much faster - in many different parts of the app. The first thing that you'll notice is that it does indeed launch faster. If you remember, the previous app could take a pretty long time (5-10) seconds to load your news feed. With the new app, it's not quite instantaneous, but it's a lot better than before. Your news feed is also faster to load more stories when you reach the bottom.
One new feature that Facebook has added is the "New Stories" banner that now adorns the top of your news feed. If you're in the middle or near the bottom of scrolling through your feed, you can just click "New Stories X+" at the top to display brand new content from your friends. No more pulling to refresh (unless you want to - it's still an option).
This style of "look, there's more content!" banner isn't just isolated to the news feed. A little notification will now appear inside comments alerting you of any new comments below.
Photos have also been retooled, and it's a wonderful improvement. Now, when you click on a photo from the news feed it instantly loads full screen. This is probably the biggest improvement in terms of speed throughout the entire app. Photos could take forever to load when accessed from the news feed or the Timeline - and now it's lighting quick.
Facebook has also added a nice swipe-down mechanism for dismissing full screen photos and taking users back to the news feed.
Finally, Messages have also received an overhaul. Not only is the interface a bit different, but you now have to ability to add your location as well as upload photos to your messages. Facebook will hit you with a location services prompt when you first download the update and open up messenger.
On a personal level, one of my biggest complaints about the previous Facebook app was that Timelines loaded painfully slow. With v.5.0, that problem seems to have been remedied, but not fixed entirely.
What else can we say? It's Facebook's first update to their iOS app since April and it's just a lot better. Facebook's previous ventures into the iOS app stew were quite frankly, miserable. Users complained that they were slow, buggy, and crashed all of the time - and they were right. iOS users have been suffering through crappy Facebook apps for years, and hopefully this is the first step in the right direction.
Facebook also released an update to their Android app today, which brought faster photo uploading and better event creation. It's not like the Facebook for Android app is anything to write home about when it comes to speed and bugginess, so let's hope Facebook has similar plans for a major overhaul with Google's OS.
The update is now available to download from the App Store.