Facebook has released a massive update for its Android app that includes an improved photo viewer, messenger, and menu tree. The update, released Wednesday, brings the same features to the Android app that iOS users have had access to since September. The release greatly improves the overall layout of the app, bringing in more white space and making the whole experience feel less claustrophobic than the previous version.
The home screen is still dominated by the news feed and features the familiar Photo, Status, and Check In buttons, but above that you'll now find the Friend Request, Message, and Notification buttons found on the desktop site. Tapping those buttons opens individual pop-up windows that provide you with the appropriate content.
To the left of the Friend Request icon is a new button that opens a large menu tree that gives users access to their Favorites, Pages, Lists, Groups, and Apps. The menu tree makes navigating the entire app much more intuitive and infinitely less frustrating than the previous app. It also adds some much needed color to an app that was by all accounts drab and boring.
In the top right corner of the app's home screen is a secondary menu button that will bring up a list of options for whatever section of the app you happen to have open. Checking out your messages? Open the secondary menu and you'll bring up the Facebook message template. It's a handy add-on that helps streamline the whole experience.
Viewing photos on the Facebook app has always been a pain. Photos took forever to load, and when they eventually did, you couldn't comment or view tags unless you loaded the desktop site. Thankfully, Facebook also made significant improvements to the entire photo viewer, giving users the ability to view tags, as well as comment on and like photos. To comment on, like, or view a photo's tags, you'll have to open it and then tap the display. We're glad Facebook didn't make tags pop-up automatically too, since they have a tendency to block out large portions of your photos.
Overall, we like what Facebook has done with their Android app. Nothing here is exactly groundbreaking, since mostly of the new features were implemented in the iOS update in September, but that still doesn't take away from the improvements they make.