A new, updated version of the Facebook for BlackBerry social networking application leaked last weekend, and though there are some minor improvements, I’m not at all impressed. That’s not just because the application, which still isn’t officially available, was expected to launch months ago and didn’t. But even after the extended wait, it’s still only a slightly-polished version of the existing BlackBerry Facebook app. And that’s just unfortunate…
Though the app leaked, the available version is only for devices running BlackBerry handheld OS v4.6, i.e., Pearl Flip, Curve 8900, Bold, etc., so those of you with older devices or Storms will have to keep on keepin’ on a bit longer.
For the most part, I knew what to expect from Facebook for BlackBerry 1.5; specifics on the application were leaked earlier this month. And it was immediately clear that the “new” application would not live up to my expectations.
The thing that bothers me most about the new, leaked app is the fact that it looks and feels just like the original Facebook for BlackBerry release, which debuted way back in the fall of 2007. The current UI isn’t bad, it’s just boring. The app doesn’t need a complete design overhaul—if it works, don’t fix it, right?—but a few added features and minor aesthetic enhancements can go a long way. As is, the landing page for Facebook for BlackBerry 1.5 is identical to v1.2 of the application, which is the most current official release.
And the most significant changes to the software take place behind the scenes so users barely notice that the app has been “improved” at all. Those changes include the ability to integrate information from your Facebook calendar with your BlackBerry, so events you plan to attend and Friends’ birthdays appear on your device calendar. (Cool, okay, but nothing I can’t live without.)
You can also choose to integrate your BlackBerry and Facebook contacts, so related information is pulled from Facebook into your BlackBerry address book. And the app lets you tie photos of your Facebook Friends to BlackBerry contacts. (Again, a nice feature, but not one that adds much genuine value, since I’m already real friends with the vast majority of my Facebook Friends. And I already have the contact information I want for the folks I actually communicate with. And if I don’t, well, I can always send them a Facebook message.)
And you can request additional contact information, like phone numbers, from your Friends, or create entirely new BlackBerry contacts, directly from the Friend List within the app.
The most notable improvement is the fact that Facebook for BlackBerry v1.5 integrates with your BlackBerry Messages app, so notifications are accessible directly from that folder. In other words, you no longer need to navigate to the Facebook application to view Friend requests or comments; they’re all available within the default messages folder.
That’s all fine and good, but how about access to Facebook Groups? Or the ability to receive and respond to various requests? It sure would be nice to be able to take tests and quizzes Friends send without having to navigate to the Facebook site to do so. As is, you can’t even view Group information or see pending invites, requests, tests or quizzes via
the Facebook for BlackBerry app.
The shear lack of new functionality suggests that v1.5 might just be an interim “fix” to satiate the mass demand for a new BlackBerry Facebook app, while the developers work studiously away on v2.0. For now, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that’s the case…and that v2.0 doesn’t take as long to arrive as v1.5.
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.