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Facebook 5.0 for iOS: Hands On With The New Native App

Facebook just released version 5.0 of its iOS app, and they have finally made the change everyone has been begging for — the social networking giant has gone native. Before today, Facebook’s application ran on HTML 5. HTML is portable, so much of the same code can be used on different platforms, but it is notoriously slow when used to power an entire application interface. Viewing and sharing photos, for example, sucked so much that Facebook built its own camera app and purchased Instagram. The News Feed in the old app would often crash, and navigation was a pain. Thankfully, all of that changed today. Facebook promises the new native app is twice as fast at starting up, scrolling through the News Feed, and loading pictures. And boy does it deliver.

The photos experience is now on par with Facebook’s blazing Camera app. Photos render smoothly, just a tad slower than on Instagram, and expand instantly when you tap on them. Swiping up or down on an expanded photo dismisses it with a bouncy flourish; a little obnoxious, but much better than it used to be.

It’s hard to overstate just how nice the News Feed feels in Facebook 5.0. Scrolling is finally smooth enough to match or best the rest of iOS, and there’s a new banner that appears at the top, alerting you when a friend makes a new post. Tapping on the banner pulls you to the top of the News Feed so you can check it out. It’s a nice touch, and a lot more useful than you might imagine. If you think smooth scrolling and a banner aren’t that big of a deal, let me put it this way: Facebook for iOS feels so good that I uninstalled the Facebook app on my Android phone.

Once you use native Facebook on the iPhone, you won’t settle for less.