Facebook for iOS

Facebook. Most of us are on there. We all use it to differing degrees & for different reasons. You'll see from a previous blog that I'm quite a fan of Facebook - an active user & avid advocate. But, things are changing....

Over the last 12 months or so my usage of Facebook has changed dramatically. Whereas once I would share everything, update my status regularly & view the updates of pretty much all of my 'friends', I now limit my usage & what I see. I now use Facebook for three main things; sharing content that I enjoy via 'like' such as webpages, music, links etc, sharing pictures & videos of my son (as he's 1200 miles away from me, my family & friends), & to connect with new people via Groups. The latter has been great recently as there are various Finland expat groups which I've joined. This has allowed me to build up my connections & network, arrange to meet people at social events, & has even led to me finding somewhere to live once I get over there!

As I've headed towards a new chapter in my life, I've wanted to de-clutter - belongings, clothes, things in storage, people, my online activity, etc. I now filter what I see much more than I ever used to. About 80% of the people I'm still 'friends' with are set to 'Only important updates' in my news feed. About 15%, people I'm good friends with & care about, are set to 'Most updates', & about 5% are muted completely - mainly because what they post is never relevant to me, or because they're people I don't ever speak to but would like to have there in case I ever needed to.

Now don't get me wrong, Facebook is still a great tool & is constantly evolving & improving (well, most of it). The new News Feed looks slick, Home on Android looks nice & has some great functions & will be good for power users (or nosey people), & some of the integration, such as Chat Heads, in to iOS has been good. I quite like Chat Heads in iOS - it looks nice, is slick, & seems to work well - although I do still use the dedicated FB Messenger app, I have to admit.

But here's my beef ..... despite all this innovation & integration in to our lives, one of the main portals in to Facebook (approx 147.2 million monthly active users, with 200 million installs on 73.6% of all iPhones), the iOS app, still kinda sucks. It's recent update has improved it. It's faster, more responsive, has a better UI etc, but as I look at it there is still not one single piece where I could say "yeah, that's great & works perfectly".

Within the app itself, the three key areas I noted above for my own personal use are fairly crap - which is worry seeing as the News Feed is the main part of the app & the whole Facebook experience. - Photos - I still can't upload a photo directly in to a specific folder. This is actually do-able on the iPad version of the app, but not on the iPhone. Annoying as it means I either have to do it via the iPad or web to get straight in the right folder, or do it via the phone in to whatever the default folder is & then manually move it when I'm on the web portal later. - Events - This partially works & partially doesn't. I like how I can sync events in to my iOS calendar, but when I want to view upcoming events in the app & get details, I can only see a limited stuff. I'm currently meant to be attending at least 4 or 5 events throughout May in Helsinki, but the app is only showing one on the 24th - all my others are before this, so no idea where they are. Not very handy when I can't remember the date of an event (so can't find it in the calendar) & need to just look it up quickly. - News Feed - my biggest bug bare. This has never been 100% since version 1.0 & still isn't. A minor annoyance of mine is that the time stamps don't update in real-time unless you force close the app & reboot it i.e. it will show a story as happening "15 minutes ago", but when you go back in 2 hours later it still says "15 minutes ago". Surely it's not THAT difficult to get a time-stamp to update accordingly......?! My main issue is the new view options you get (which will no doubt increase even more when the new News Feed is properly rolled out). From a personal perspective I have all the aforementioned filters applied, so all I want to see is my selected content in chronological order. On the web portal my filters are applied & I have the Most Recent sort option selected - works just right. But in the app, OH NOOOO! If I have News Feed selected, I get all my filters applied, but everything comes through in a random order as opposed to chronologically; 1 minute ago, 3 hours ago, 30 minute ago, yesterday at 9pm, 15 minutes ago etc etc. So if I then select the Most Recent option, I get everything in the right order, but none of my filters are now there. There seems to be no middle ground & no way to replicate what ever your web portal view is. On a broader scale, I still can't understand why so many News Feed options are needed. Within the app I currently have a choice of 18 different feed option. Why can't I, as a user, have one single feed that I then customise how I see fit, so that I get the exact content I want?! ..... And if I happen to want different feeds, why give me the option to create them myself with certain criteria?! I don't use lists on FB, or even Twitter, & I know there is the option in FB to create a list, but doing so with certain people just seems to be pointless as you still can't specify criteria & it just adds to the million lists that FB gives you anyway - just one more list to add to the list of lists!

So for now, my love/hate relationship with Facebook for iOS will continue. It's still invaluable to me. I just sit in hope that one day (optimistically I'd like to think when the new News Feed rolls out, but really I know probably never) some of these key features are looked at, simplified, made more user friendly, & made to actually work as they should! I'd also like to think (hope) that they may also make things simpler for us all by consolidating the three apps out there - Facebook, Messenger & Camera - into one really good, functional app - again, unlikely though.

....... Oh, & Just as I'm about to hit 'Publish', I had a thought - Notifications. Don't even get me started on Facebook notifications *shakes fist at screen*......