The Facebook mobile app has average of 2 stars in the App Store with 23k ratings, and 3.6 stars in Play Store, including 631k of one-star ratings and 226k of 2-star ratings.
There is an interesting break down here. I also don’t like the current Facebook mobile app.
The usual discussion happening over and over again today is “we have our web site / our mobile web site, so why do we need a mobile app”? I feel that way too often the answer is “we don’t need it, but the competition does have an app, so we just have to have a “check” against this feature too”. I suppose, the very first competitor who decided to make an app was either just experimenting in this venture area hoping for some unexpected insights. Or their technical director was just an Apple fanboy. Or they were influenced by some technical mass media. Anyways, it happens way to often that a company cannot provide you with a compelling business reason of having a mobile app, when asked.
In Facebook’s case, it hard to believe that. They might have issues with monetizing the mobile app, but it is just hard to believe they would release an app without a compelling reason. And this is bad for Facebook, because this means their initial business ideas didn’t fully worked out – a lot of people expect something different than this app does.
Speaking about my person, there are
three two reasons why I have this app installed. The first reason is that it was pre-installed on my HTC device. The first my reason to have this app is because I want to be able easily launch Facebook after unlocking the screen. The app is an icon on my Android home screen, it has a very specific position on the screen which I’ve learned by heart, so I can launch it instinctively even without looking at the screen. When I’m using the browser, I have to start the browser first, then open up its favorites list, then scroll this one-directional list to find Facebook, then launch it. Yes, I know that in WP7 and W8 it is possible to put a web site link into the start screen, which would make the same for me. But I’m using Android and I’m way to lazy to find ouf how to do it. I suppose it is already possible, but I haven’t stumbled upon this feature yet.
The second reason is, when I open the Facebook app, I want to immediately see the new messages, i.e. the messages appeared since I’ve last used this app. Basically, the same principle as in the Mail app. Loading messages is very slow, we cannot speed it up (until LTE will establish itself in Germany), so let’s use the idle time to load them in background. So, and this is not like the Facebook app works now. When I start it, it first turns on the GPS receiver and prints a “Loading” message. I don’t know why does it need GPS, I don’t remember I ever allowed it to use my location; I don’t even remember I’ve ever used it to post a message. And, it takes 8 seconds from the start till my Facebook news stream appears. And this is using WiFi connection to my 25MBit/s DSL router! In IE9 on my PC, the same task takes 2 seconds, in the Chrome on the same HTC device it takes 4 seconds. For me, this rules out the very reason of using this app.
PS. After writing this post I’ve opened the bookmarks section of standard Android Chrome browser and have found the feature to create bookmarks on the home screen. I’ve removed the Facebook app and replaced it with a web page shortcut.