27 August 2012

The new Facebook app for iOS, now with Google Maps

Facebook for iOS now with Google MapsSo last week finally launched a new app for the iPhone, rewritten in native code for improved speed. It certainly feels more responsive, the menus and actions load much faster – even more than twice as fast, I would say. Photo browsing has improved as well: albums load quicker, browsing photos is faster and in the news stream you can swipe through updates containing multiple photos without leaving the stream. The only thing that seems unchanged is the loading speed of the news stream, but that is constrained more by the network than by any code improvement.

But the change that surprised me the most I discovered in the ‘check-in’ dialog: instead of using Bing Maps, like the desktop version, the mobile app uses Maps! Given the animosity between Facebook and Google that move feels very weird. On the other hand, I think there is a simple enough explanation for it: since the app now uses native iOS code, it was probably more convenient (or even required) to use the built-in mapping features than integrating the third-party Bing solution – which could make the app bigger and slower. And because Google Maps will be replaced with Apple’s own solution in the next version of iOS, it’s likely Facebook will also switch at that point. Which makes it even more crucial to see if Apple’s Maps are good enough to compete with Google’s – especially here in a small Eastern-European country…

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