Facebook adds new features to mobile apps

Some more Facebook Updates, some of which you will already know. But worth a read..

Faceb­ook emplo­yees at the compa­ny's headq­uarte­rs in Menlo Park.

The onlything constant about Facebook is that it keeps changing. Just when you think you’ve figured out the interface to the world’s biggest social network, the engineers there update it again.

For the 600 million or so people who use their smartphones to stay on top of Facebook friends, recent weeks have been especially anxiety-producing.

Recognising some time ago that for many mobile users, the Facebook phone app is their primary or only way of access, the company released a list of new features that bring the mobile apps into line with the desktop browser version of Facebook.

The Facebook Gifts service will soon be available in Australia.

The Facebook Gifts service will soon be available in Australia.

Facebook created new versions of its official apps for Android and Apple phones and revamped its mobile-optimised website, m.facebook.com, which works for most other smartphones.

Facebook says the mobile site has more users than the Android and Apple apps combined.

Some new features are easy to spot. Friends’ posts now include a share option so you can re-post their updates, pictures and links to your timeline. But other features are more subtle and take some poking around to figure out.

The most significant change to Facebook’s mobile apps is that the News Feed, the real-time stream of updates from your Facebook friends, now provides the same sorting options as the desktop version: Top Stories and Most Recent. If you go awhile without logging in, the app will set the sorting to Top Stories, which floats the updates from the friends with whom you interact the most to the top of the feed.

If you’d rather see posts sorted with the newest always on top, tap the gear icon next to News Feed on the app’s main left-hand menu. (It can take a little practice to tap the gear rather than another control). This will pop up a menu that lets you choose your sorting preference.

Your photos now have a Make Profile Picture option, so you don’t need to go back to a full-size computer to turn a photo taken on your phone into your identifying image. With an iPhone, press and hold the picture to bring up the command. In Android phones, it’s an option in the overflow menu.

Facebook has also built its chat function into the mobile apps. Rather than the email-like Message utility, Chat is designed for conversations in which both parties tap back and forth at the same time.

To start a chat session, tap the human-silhouette icon in the upper right corner of the app. That will pop open a list of your friends who are available right now to start a chat session, either on their phones (indicated by a phone icon) or on their desktops (indicated by a green dot).

There’s a Favourites list you can edit to list only the friends you message most, so you don’t have to pore through your entire list of available friends to find them every time.

Do you upload lots of photos to Facebook from your smartphone? You have two new options. First, you can now select more than one photo by tapping, to upload them together. You can also configure the app to automatically upload every image you shoot to a private album from which, with a couple of taps, you can later share them. To turn on this feature, Photo Sync, go to your timeline and tap your photos icon.

At the bottom right, look for the Synced button. Tap this, and the app will walk you through configuration of Photo Sync.

Once you’ve enabled it, tapping Synced will display those photos that have been automatically uploaded from your phone to your account. You can choose at your leisure which ones to share, and they will be posted to your Facebook timeline instantly, rather than requiring you to wait for each one to be uploaded separately.

There are several new features for mobile status updates, too. You can tag friends in a post, just as on the desktop version of Facebook, by putting an (AT) sign in front of their name. For example, “(AT)Gregory Taylor”. Facebook will turn the mention of your friend’s name in your update to a blue link to their page and alert your friend to the name-drop.

Status updates from the mobile apps can also be limited as to who sees them – another long-time option on the desktop version. While composing a status update, you’ll see an icon at the lower right of the text field. Tap that and you’ll get a menu of options for who can see the post – Everyone, Friends, Only Me and any friend lists you or Facebook have created for your account.

Facebook has also added its Facebook Gifts feature to its mobile versions. It will be introduced in Australia soon. This allows you to buy a present for another Facebook user and pay for it with a credit card.

Its catalogue isn’t as comprehensive as Amazon’s – you can’t send someone an electrical generator to get them through winter power outages – but less complexity can perhaps make it easier to choose a gift, since you don’t have every retail product in the world as an option.

To use this feature, go to a friend’s timeline and look for the Gift button just below their name. Tap that, and you’ll be presented with a catalogue of gifts. Most are of the biscuits and candles variety and cost less than $20. There’s an abundance of specialty foods, such as chocolate-dipped jalapeno peppers. Some allow the recipient to choose flavours. Some allow you to send, say, a cheese of the month for a few months.

Once you’ve selected a gift, you’ll be prompted to pick a card to go with it. There’s a scrollable list of categories at the bottom of this page that ranges from birthday to holidays to sorry. Choose a card, edit the message and tap Give Gift.

Facebook will notify your recipient of the pending gift, and prompt them, rather than you, to enter a delivery address. Only if they enter one will Facebook prompt you to pay for the gift with a credit card. It wouldn’t be the way to do all your gift giving but if you’re just looking to send biscuits to a Facebook friend, the system’s simplicity is a plus.

One last, and more lighthearted, new feature: in private messages from your phone, you can add emoticons – those smiley faces, hearts and other images that some love and some loathe. To see the dozens of options, tap the (PLUS) icon at the lower left while composing a message. In addition to the familiar buttons to, say, take a photo, you’ll also see a dozen smiley-face emoticons. On an iPhone, the full set of more than 200 images is built into the phone, through its alternate keyboard. On an Android phone, it’s built into the app. To see it, tap the ellipsis (…) icon at the lower left. This will expose three separate tabs of emoticons, each of which can additionally be scrolled sideways to show multiple screens of emoticons.

Alas, the app can’t tell which of your friends will find a message full of smiling cow faces totally annoying.

Read More… Click Below… Article courtesy of www.theage.com.au  

Facebook adds new features to mobile apps.