Facebook Launches Completely Rewritten App, Promises Faster Performance

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

The wait.  Sometimes it would last so long, it was just faster to go to my computer and open a browser.  That’s been the joy of the Facebook App experience, until today …. apparently.  But after re-building the app completely from the ground up, is it any faster?  Or did Facebook just put in more privacy invading features for users to undo?

“We feel the pain points [regarding slowness] pretty harshly ourselves…so this major update to the Facebook for iOS app is focused on one thing — speed.” – iOS mobile product manager Mick Johnson

Facebook says that the new app is twice as fast.  That may be true.  They have dumped the useless blue splash screen and pops up before the app loads.  So that may create the illusion that it’s faster, and the main timeline screen does popup faster.   Clicking on outside links, is really fast now.  Before vs. 5, I had to select “open in safari” because it would time out nine out of ten times when clicking on an external link.  But now it pops up after about a second, which is completely acceptable for a handshake.  And loading videos is screaming, so there’s a definite performance boost there as well.

Loading photos and videos have also gotten faster.  Much faster.  And they no longer have to load twice if you want to get a larger look at the image.  You just click on it and it instantly slides up with the like button and comments section below.  Comments also post much faster.  I also find that checking in is faster and I like that when you do, you get a small Google Map that shows your position via the phone’s GPS.

However, so far, I haven’t found loading your personal timeline page to be all that faster than before.   And Facebook says that messenger is faster.  Didn’t seem that way to me. At least not until it loaded.  Once it loaded, it seemed to hum.  But the actual loading of the messenger app took awhile.  And it’s kinda odd that they opted for a more vague “+” icon to load a photo in messenger, rather than the tried and true camera icon that we’re used to.

How did Facebook supercharge their mobile app for such speed?  They dumped HTML5 and went with a more iOS centric Objective C programming.    This enabled for the incorporation of the camera and Facebook messenger into the app by sharing the same code, rather than using different code that would have to handshake.

But here’s what bugs me.  There’s now  a feature which will broadcast where you’re at when you post something or load an image.  And it’s not all that clear if it’s on by default or not until you click on the little arrowhead and see it turn blue.   So you know it’s not on by default, but I don’t understand why it’s there in the first place.  Oh wait, it’s Facebook.  They are obsessed with trying to get you to live ever second online with no privacy.

All in all, though, I think it’s an exponential improvement over the vs. 4, which was darn near unusuable.  And now I’m finding posting with my phone fun again.

Available FREE for both iOS and Android from the usual app stores.

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.