Well, with Joe Hewitt famously no longer working on the Facebook iPhone app, it took a little bit longer than some expected, but today a new version finally hit the App Store with a much requested new feature: Push Notifications.
While the 3.0 version of Facebook’s app was great, probably one of the best iPhone apps out there, it, like many other iPhone apps, was only useful when it was actively being used. That is because Apple obviously doesn’t allow third-party apps to run in the background. Sure, the app could be badged with a number when you had new messages, but it didn’t have true notifications.
But with full Push Notification support, the app gets a lot more useful as you can now get notified with a pop-up message or sound when friends do things like comment on your Wall or tag photos of you. This allows you to more passively interact with your Facebook data and jump in to the app only when you want to actively see or respond to something.
A number of other third-party apps actually offered Facebook notification functionality, notably Boxcar (a favorite of mine), but this native support allows for a more tailored experience. For example, you can set notifications for Messages, Wall Posts, Friend Requests, Friend Confirmations, Photo Tags, Events, and Comments with the app.
And Push Notifications aren’t the only new feature of 3.1. There is also a new way to sync your Facebook friends with your iPhone’s address book. This includes replacing contact photos. Pretty nifty.
Update: Facebook has reached out to let us know that version 3.1.1 was posted the same day as 3.1 to update an issue with contact photo syncing. This should work now, we’re told. Make sure you download the new version.