Facebook Focuses on Speed For Its Latest Android App Update

In trying to bring its iOS and Android experiences to parity, Facebook is overhauling its smartphone app on Google’s platform today by bringing the left-hand menu design it introduced to the iOS app two months ago. Instead of the grid-based design, where users have to return to the main menu to switch between features like photos and the news feed, a menu will sweep in on the left-hand side containing quick links to events, messages, photos and more. Messages are now in the top bar for quick access.

Facebook also doubled the speed for accessing photos and alum in the app. They made it faster to share photos, view comments and edit captions.

Timeline, which Facebook is only now starting to roll out to users in New Zealand, is nowhere to be seen in this mobile app nor on iOS.

The company needs to be better at updating its Android and iOS apps simultaneously — especially because Facebook for Android is poised to become the company’s largest smartphone client over the next year. With 83.2 million monthly active users, Facebook for Android is inching closer to overtaking Facebook for iOS’s 98.3 million monthly actives. The Android app will probably pass iOS in users sometime next year as the market base of Google’s platform nears parity with Apple’s.

Over the past year, Facebook has developed a complex mix of HTML5 and native development to cater to multiple mobile platforms and the long-tail of feature phones. Called Faceweb, it allows the company to maintain one consistent news feed experience across the desktop and mobile devices. At the beginning of the year, the company’s chief technology officer Bret Taylor said Facebook originally had to update seven different versions of the service across mobile platforms and the desktop web until it switched to the Faceweb approach.

Recognizing that its future will be on phones and tablets with 350 million monthly mobile actives already, Facebook overhauled the way it promotes its suite of apps on the homepage this morning.