Facebook Mobile Apps for Windows Phone 7 and Palm WebOS Gain Places

Places functionality is included in the most recent updates to Microsoft and Palm’s official Facebook mobile apps, allowing more Facebook users to begin sharing their location. Facebook for Windows Phone 7 Version 1.1 also includes photo tagging, and Palm’s Facebook for HP webOS Version 1.5 builds on Version 1.4 which included the ability to open multiple instances, or cards,of the app.

These updates put the Windows and HP webOS apps on par with the Blackberry app, but behind the Android app which has Groups, Chat and push notifications, and the iPhone app which also has advanced Places options and Deals. With Places now available to users of all the major Facebook mobile platforms, check-ins should become more common in the feed, reinforcing the notion that sharing one’s location is a natural part of social networking.

Facebook launched Places in August, though initially it was only available on Facebook for iPhone and touch.facebook.com. It wasn’t until November that Android and Blackberry users gained access. Facebook has said it is seeking to close the functionality gap between the iPhone and previously lagging Android apps, both of which are developed in-house. Meanwhile, the Blackberry, Windows and Palm apps which are developed by their respective platform owners are left trying to catch up, making the handsets that run them less attractive to avid Facebook users.

Facebook for Windows

Microsoft’s Facebook for Windows Phone 7 Version 1.1 also includes performance improvements, a better graphical interface, and the ability to run while the phone’s screen is locked. The addition of Places makes the app more powerful that the Windows Phone 7’s native People and Me hubs from which users can update their status, view recent posts by friends, and change their profile picture. Before this update, there was little reason to use the specific Facebook for Windows app over the hubs.

Users can also now tag friends in photos — something currently unavailable in the Android app. Still, the app lacks push notifications, Chat, and Groups.

Facebook for webOS

Palm’s Facebook for webOS Version 1.5 adds Places to emoticons and the ability to post status updates from the native Just Type universal search interface which were added in Version 1.4. Regarding the lack of Chat in the Facebook app, Justin Reid, one of the mobile app’s developers and the outspoken community manager for its Facebook Page, says that “Facebook Chat will be supported by the Messaging app in a forthcoming update to HP webOS 2.0. No need to keep chiming in about that – we’re already on the case.” This software update is due by the end of the year, though it seems awkward that users will have to leave the Facebook app in order to Chat with their Facebook friends.

One noticeable advantage of Microsoft’s app over Palm’s is that if users choose to pull info about their Facebook friends into their Windows Phone address book, they can do so for only the friends for which they already have other contact info. This keeps the address book tidy. The webOS version of this data sync pulls the info of all of your friends, cluttering the address book with distant acquaintances.

Users of these two platforms should be excited about the addition of Places. The other deficiencies are more private, and the missing features can be used from the Facebook web interface. But now when friends talk about the more social, public, mobile-only Places feature, Palm and Windows users won’t have to feel left out or disappointed in their app anymore.