Facebook updates native app for iOS

Macworld Australia Staff
24 August, 2012
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Facebook has revamped its iOS app today to be “twice as fast as the previous version” when launching, scrolling or opening photos.

The new iOS app, Facebook for iOS 5.0, was rebuilt from scratch using Apple’s iOS SDK to improve the previous app’s poor performance throughout a six-month ordeal.

Users now only load the statuses in their news feeds at the time of opening the app, providing faster response times and alleviating the need to refresh.

“As you scroll down your news feed, all your friends’ stories appear faster than ever. A banner lets you know when new stories come in, and you can tap once to immediately see the latest updates,” Facebook’s Mobile Product Manager Mick Johnson said.

Photos and notifications on the iOS app have received an upgrade as well.

When creating the app, Facebook wanted users to have an app that is “faster, more reliable, and easier to use than ever before,” according to Facebook Software Developer Jonathan Dann.

“While utilising web technology has allowed us to support more than 500 million people using Facebook on more than 7000 supported devices, we realised that when it comes to platforms like iOS, people expect a fast, reliable experience and our iOS app was falling short,” Dann said in a Facebook blog.

While HTML 5 allowed Facebook developers to create a uniform experience across a number of devices and quickly launch and test new features without the need for a new app, it did not provide fast response times for users.

The solution was to rebuild the app with Objective-C programming language, but continue to use HTML 5 in areas that Facebook will alter more often.

“For areas within the app where we anticipate making changes more often, we will continue to utilise HTML5 code, as we can push updates server side without requiring people to download a new version of the app,” Dann said.

All Things D‘s Mike Isaac believes that “HTML 5 is a technology that, while promising in the long run, isn’t able to deliver the type of speed and performance we expect right now. It’s a long bet, and something that Facebook aims to continue developing.”

The updated Facebook app for iOS is available now from the App Store.

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