Earlier this month, Facebook released an update for the Facebook for iPhone mobile app that included an “Improved news feed”, but no one seemed to understand what had actually changed. We’ve determined that the native app now pulls the news feed directly from mobile site m.facebook.com.
This allows Facebook’s engineers to subtly push news feed design and backend changes to the iPhone without a software update, and lets them maintain one set of code instead of two.
Previously, the Facebook for iPhone app pulled the news feed directly from Facebook private native app APIs. Now the only discernible difference between the news feeds on Facebook for iPhone and m.facebook.com is that the Like and comment buttons rendered by the iPhone app when users hit the ‘+’ button to leave feedback on a story are a little slicker looking.
The update will allow Facebook’s mobile team to spend less time rewriting similar code, and more time improving the user experience and porting features from the Facebook canvas site. The update that arrived last week was the first one in five months on iOS.
Facebook said it was trying to achieve parity between Facebook for iPhone and Facebook for Android, but recently the mobile site has been the first to get new features such as Event checkins. The link between the iPhone app and mobile site’s news feeds could keep Apple’s native Facebook app a small step ahead of Android’s in terms of functionality.
While few users may have noticed the change when the Facebook for iPhone software update was released, the change means their feature and bug fix requests may be addressed sooner.