Facebook For Android Gets A Much-Needed Overhaul (And Support For Events)

Facebook for Android, long something of an ugly stepchild to its iPhone counterpart, has just gotten another major upgrade. The new version adds some key new features like Events (which you couldn’t access in the old version), friend requests, and video playback. There’s also a nifty feature that the iPhone doesn’t have: a stream of thumbnail photos that sit at the bottom of the Facebook homescreen, each of which represents a friend’s recent shared photo, video, or photo album.

Here’s the full list of feature changes:

An updated homescreen with:

  • The ability to post a status update or search for friends with just one click
  • A new photo reel that enables easy viewing of photos and videos from friends in your News Feed
  • A draggable Notifications drawer where you can easily see if a friend posted a note on your wall, commented or liked a post or tagged you in a photo
  • Video playback from the app. Similar to the Facebook for iPhone application, we are using the H.264 baseline profile for encoding videos
  • Support for Events. You can now review your upcoming events, read your event details, and even RSVP – all from the application
  • Respond to friend requests without leaving the application

Another small change that’s going to save a few headaches: it’s now easier to open links that your friends have shared on Facebook. Before now, tapping on a friend’s status update that contained a link would take you to your friend’s wall — in order to actually open that link, you had to long-hold the update until a menu popped up. It was quirky design, and I suspect some people never figured this out. In the new version tapping a link will take you your friend’s wall; tapping a second time will actually open the link, no long-hold necessary.

In general, the app feels nicer than the older version, from the more polished header image to the fact that most of Facebook’s main features are finally available. Still, they aren’t all here yet — it looks like Chat didn’t make the cut.