Facebook is adopting a new date-driven release process for mobile apps, and that will benefit you by making sure you have a new feature, bug fix, or tweak on your Facebook apps every month or two.
“Until recently, our mobile app development was feature-driven. We’d decide on a bundle of features, furiously work on them, test them, and ship. Great updates we had already finished sometimes took longer to get into people’s hands because we often had to wait for additions and tweaks that threw us off schedule. As we started developing more and more for mobile, it became clear we needed a scalable process to manage the increased mobile engineering activity and ship quality updates to users fast,” says Facebook in an Engineering note.
Moving to this date-driven release process helps their engineers, as well as users according to Facebook.
“We now schedule predictable and explicit dates when we cut from mobile feature development to testing, stabilization, and polishing. This allows engineering to move fast, keeps the apps in a shippable state, and generally removes ambiguity about when code will ship. Moving to a date-driven model means that stability and performance updates , or user-ready features,don’t need to wait on another feature to ship.”
Of course, Facebook ships updates to Facebook.com every day – multiple ones at that. Why can’t they just do that for mobile apps as well?
“Shipping mobile software is inherently different than shipping web software — the stakes are higher. It’s easier for code to cause an app crash on mobile than bring down an entire site on the web. And with web software you can roll out gradually and make updates before you roll out to the majority of users. With mobile software we don’t have these luxuries,” they say.
Facebook promises these timely app updates for the main Facebook app, Facebook Camera, and Facebook Messenger. They shipped an update to their iOS app today in response to iOS 6, and also released a new version on Facebook Messenger for Android.
They also just released an update to Facebook Pages Manager which allows page admins to promote posts via mobile. They didn’t mention Pages Manager as an app that will be put on this new date-driven release schedule.