Facebook for Android 2.0 focuses on speed

Facebook today announced a major update to its Android application that improves the speed of launching the app, viewing photos and loading Timeline.

The update is similar to the one done for iOS in August. Previously, Facebook’s mobile applications were basically HTML5 sites within the frame of a native app. That approach made it possible to release daily updates without requiring users to download a new version and helped the company scale its mobile offering across different devices during a period of rapid growth. But the user experience suffered because the app was so slow. This has become more pronounced as other mobile apps, built natively, have greatly improved. Now Facebook can be on par with other apps and continue to make changes to improve speed.

“The infrastructure in place will let us continue to make the app even faster, smoother, and feature-rich,” engineer Frank Qixing DU said in a note on the Facebook Engineering page.

Photo viewing is a particular area of focus since it’s so core to the experience of the social network. With Facebook for Android 2.0, when users tap on a photo, it will open more quickly and they can scroll through photo albums without losing their place in News Feed. Facebook says it has improved speed 2x in this area. Liking and commenting is more efficient, too, and the company says that Timeline loads faster and the app overall opens more quickly than in the past.

These changes will make browsing Facebook more enjoyable for users, increasing the amount of time they spend using the app and making them more likely to view and interact with page posts, app stories and ads.

The new version will be available for download later today in the Google Play Store.

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