Facebook for Android has long been the butt of many jokes. Little changed on the Android app for what seemed like an eternity, whilst iPhone owners had a much more efficient app experience.
That's all changed following the update to Facebook 1.8.0. The user interface has been refreshed and now reflects that of the iPhone version of the app. The biggest front page difference is that the Android app offers you a drop-down menu to sort your news feed.
To the left of the top navigation bar you now have an option that slides out a left-hand navigation menu that replaces the old and cumbersome front page. Now you don't have to get back to that page to head to a different area of Facebook. So you can go from looking at a friend's updates to your events, for example, or from events to messages, very quickly and easily.
The time you do lose access to this left-hand navigation is when you are updating - typing in your status, uploading a photo or in Places. The result is that it's generally better to navigate the app, in some cases better than the iOS device. Because the iPhone needs a back navigator, whereas Android gives you a separate device control for that action, you can get more on the Android app display at any one time.
Alerts within the app are better handled too. Across the top of the app you also have Friend Requests, Messages and Notifications icons. These turn into pop-up boxes, rather than a slide-up tray, so are easier to access.
Everything seems to be logically placed from what we've seen so far and the immediate impression we have is that it is better overall. We tested it on a Samsung Galaxy S and we found it still wasn't especially fast, with what seemed like unnecessarily long loading times and the occasional freeze. Whether this is the device or the app we can't yet say, but if you've experienced that then let us know via the comments section below.
Finally, the new Facebook for Android does feel a little better on Honeycomb. The interface is slightly more refined, but it’s still a long way from using the space efficiently on a larger device. Opening the left-hand navigation menu, for example, fills the page with blank space, so there's plenty more that could be done to improve it.
Facebook for Android is free and available on the Android Market now.