Facebook released an updated version of its Android smartphone app on Wednesday, promising a host of new improvements for devices running the new software build.
Among other improvements, photos viewed on Android phones should load up to twice as fast as those in the previous Android app. Users will also be able to add tags, comments and captions to photos directly from their Android devices, features previously available only to iOS users.
The Android app also comes with a revamped status bar, adding the Facebook Messages icon to the top of the screen. The idea, writes Facebook employee Keith Peiris in a company blog post, is to be able to write and respond to messages without having to leave a particular page.
Finally, the app includes a new quick nav bar on the left side, another minor tweak that improves app navigation between menu screens.
In all, it’s a minor update, and by no means a complete overhaul of the user interface or mobile functionality. But it’s still nice to see that iOS devices aren’t the only ones getting developer attention. After all, Android is the current leader in global smartphone market share. It’s a platform companies can’t afford to ignore.
Facebook has made it abundantly clear it will boost its mobile efforts in 2012. Facebook CTO Bret Taylor has made mobile and HTML5 development priority number one, a crucial step in growing Facebook beyond the desktop.
And with slick, polished social networking apps like Path debuting as of late, Facebook needs to step up its mobile game.
The new version of Facebook for Android is available in the Android Market beginning Wednesday.