Facebook today announced the culmination of more than six months of work, a native version of the Facebook app for iOS that’s twice as fast. “Up until now we’ve looked at scale,” iOS Product Manager Mick Johnson says, “but we’ve become aware that while we have a great mobile website, embedding HTML 5 inside an app isn’t what people expect.” Facebook for iOS 5.0 was built from the ground up using Apple’s iOS SDK, and looks nearly identical to the old app, but bundles in very substantial speed improvements as well as an overdue Timeline profile view for iPad. The app update is set to roll out over the next few hours.
Despite one or two minor trade-offs, a native Objective-C iteration of the Facebook app is a very welcome, albeit grossly overdue, change. The app has been cripplingly — even somewhat astonishingly — slow for years.
Seemingly with little self-consciousness due to its position as one of the most popular apps on the iOS platform, Facebook appeared satisfied to rest upon its mobile laurels as users continued to wrestle with its various failings. As was implied by the release of Facebook Camera, however, Facebook’s outlook has somewhat changed.
Built upon the same codebase as Facebook Camera — an app I was rather impressed by several months ago — the new version of Facebook for iOS is truly a pleasure to use. Although I imagine that’s certainly not enough to alter any anti-Facebook rhetoric from the technology sphere, it’ll unquestionably come as a very welcome surprise for the vast majority of average users.
Facebook 5.0 is available for download from the iOS App Store.