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Wondering Why the Facebook iOS App is So Terrible? Here Are The Reasons

When on the subject of social networking, it is hard to discuss it without mentioning Facebook. As it stands, Facebook is simply the most popular social networking website on the planet. Sadly, the same can't be said with regards to its official iOS app. With every new update, it seems that the developers have the knack to break things, introduce new bugs or change something that doesn't need to be changed. The Facebook iOS app is currently rated 2 stars over at iTunes which reflects the frustration of millions of its users. So why is the official Facebook app for iOS is less than stellar?

Facebook iOS App is Slow
The folks over at Mobtest blog took the liberty of digging around the Facebook iOS app in order to find out why it is riddled with problems when the web version doesn't have any issues whatsoever. First they determined what exactly are the problems of Facebook.

So What is Wrong With Facebook iOS App?

  • App is slow
  • Inconsistent information.¬†Notification icons say there are new messages or responses, actual window does not show anything new.
  • App is slower than mobile web site.¬†While everybody is used to speedy apps, the Facebook mobile web site is faster than iOS app, and offers almost the same functionality.
  • Tons of other bugs.¬†Scrambled views, photo upload, text boxes disappear, no sharing.

The post from Mobtest itself can be a little too technical but the gist of it is that the Facebook app uses HTML for the timeline feature. But in order to display the HTML inside the app, UIWebView is utilized. But the problem is that UIWebView itself is rather slow which is quite evident in the app because it doesn't have access to the Nitro JavaScript engine, which is present in Mobile Safari. Thus explaining why the web version is faster than the iOS app.
Facebook App Timeline iOS
So why is Facebook using HTML inside its iOS app? This is because HTML is good for displaying fluid content. HTML also creates a code that can be shared on many different platforms such as iOS, Android, Windows Phone and more. In addition to that, HTML is more in line with Facebook's continuous deployment procedure.

FB developers are responsible for their own QA, and part of that is to push code out to a limited set of servers, see results and then push it out to more and do this each day if not more often. With Apple taking as least a week of review, rolling back a code change is a nightmare.

So there you go, the technical factors why the Facebook app is so slow and unusable. For a more detailed analysis about problems in Facebook iOS app, head over to Mobtest blog.

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