Coming alongside a new version of the Twitter app for Windows Phone 8, Microsoft this week released a new version of its Facebook app as well. Now at version 5.1 the Facebook app for Windows Phone 8 loses any remaining "Metro" user interfaces but picks up a slew of useful new features.
You can read more about the previous version in my post Windows Phone 8 App Pick: Facebook 5.
That version of the app, you may recall, say Microsoft acceding to Facebook demands that the official mobile app follow its design conventions and not those of Windows Phone. So Facebook 5 looked and worked like the Android and iPhone versions of the app, with non-standard (for Windows Phone) UI conventions and navigation. In version 5.1, the transformation is now complete, and the Windows Phone-style app bar that used to sit on the bottom of the screen is now gone. Instead, the app features a Facebook-style toolbar at the top, like the Android and iOS versions of the app.
Frankly, I find this new toolbar harder to use because it's at the top of the screen and is harder to reach. But as a dedicated Windows Phone fan, I'm a bit outraged that Microsoft is allowing this, of course. This app now looks nothing like a Windows Phone app.
Once you get past the mourning stage, you can see that the app does pick up a ton of new features. These include...
Easier to see new posts. There's a new visual indicator when new posts are available to read: Just tap the circle on the right to jump to the top and see what's new.
Message improvements. You can now attach photos to messages you send to friends on Facebook. You cannot, however, add "stickers," a feature Facebook added to iOS and Android ... in July.
Photos improvements. You can now share photos that others have posted to Facebook and download photos from the app to your phone.
Unfriend and Unlike. If you want to unfriend a friend or unlike a post previously, you needed to do so from the web version of Facebook. But now you can do that both from the app. Unliking a post is as simple as tapping the "like" icon, which toggles it. (I don't actually see the "unfriend" bit, but I'll keep looking.)
Check-in changes. Microsoft claims that it's now "easier to check in at your favorite spots thanks to navigation improvements," but I don't see that. It works the same as before from what I can tell.
So is it any good? In a word, no, which is problematic because this app is so necessary, and it's something I use regularly. The Facebook app on Windows Phone continues to be one of the most miserably buggy and poorly-performing mobile apps I've ever used, and this update certainly doesn't change that at all. I'll keep using it because I have to.