Thursday, 13 December 2012

Facebook snoops and sucks faster than ever


The number one Facebook complaint in the Google Play Store comments: it's sloooooooow!

But not anymore, because Facebook ditched HTML5 and went native. That's techspeak for: the app is a lot faster now. And it is faster indeed. Since Facebook for Android got rid of HTML5 its speed increased a lot.

Nope, I'm not the first to write about the speed increase. But most sites out there just copy what Facebook said about its update and only write about the speed increase. They ignore what Facebook does to your battery, your data, and your money, probably because they didn't bother to test the app before writing about it.

If you look beyond the Play Store description and Facebooks own press release you'll find that Facebook may have ditched HTML5, but it didn't ditch its bad habits.

Data and battery juice

When you get out of Facebook by hitting the back or home button you'd expect the app to keep quiet, unless you told it to sync by itself.

But Facebook doesn't keep quiet. When you switch all notifications and sync options off, it still goes online behind your back. The damage adds up to megabytes per day, which can be very expensive on international data roaming connections. Worse yet, Facebook won't allow your phone to enter deep sleep, so Facebook sucks your battery dry even when you're not using it.

You don't even have to launch the Facebook app for it, because it has so many autostart triggers that only a very good autostart manager can tame it.

What data goes from your phone to Facebook and back when you're not using Facebook? Your guess is as good as mine, because Facebook won't tell us what's going on in the background.

You could switch off all data roaming on your phone to keep Facebook from making your phone bill explode, but this also keeps apps like WhatsApp (cheap, hardly any data usage) offline. If you want to keep Facebook under control without killing other apps you have to freeze Facebook with apps like Titanium, use a firewall when roaming, silence it with a task killer after use (apps like Facebook are one of the reasons why Android task killers sometimes make sense), or simply get rid of it. If you want to use Facebook without the data-guzzling battery-draining official app you could simply use the mobile website, but then you'll have to scroll past the "go install our mobile app" ad everytime. Friendcaster is a good alternative. The way Friendcaster lets you swipe through its tabs beats what Facebooks own app has to offer.

Facebook (if you have unlimited data and don't care about battery life)

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