Sunday, 17 March 2013
Android Facebook apps: Friendcaster, Seesmic, Fast, Atrium, Stream, Flipster, Tinfoil, FBM, Connector, facebook web
Facebook without Facebook
The official Android Facebook app invites vitriolic Play Store comments due to its abominable performance. Facebook eats RAM like Wimpy eats burgers, it sucks your battery dry like a vampire with bulimia, you need voodoo to stop it from autostarting, and if you cross the border its massive background traffic will force you to take a second mortgage on your house to pay your data roaming bill.
Google must have been smoking something really good and heavy when they decided to give Facebook a "top developer" label in their app store. The official Facebook app proves that Android task killers serve a purpose after all.
Enough about the official Facebook app now. There are plenty of ways to Facebook without it, and just about each and every alternative Android Facebook app beats the piece of crap from Mark Zuckerberg hands down.
Friendcaster and Seesmic
Friendcaster is the most feature-rich Facebook app out there. Like all alternative Facebook clients, Friendcaster is faster than the official app. If you head to the settings and switch off "alert for Facebook notifications" Friendcaster stays offline until you explicitly tell it to go online. And unlike the official app, Friendcaster can handle multiple Facebook accounts.
Seesmic combines Facebook and Twitter in one app, and lets you post to both networks in one shot.
Both Friendcaster and Seesmic show all Facebook posts, even if you told Facebook not to show everything. If you have a million Facebook friends this makes things unmanagable. If you're overwhelmed by the number of posts you better move on to one of the other Facebook alternatives, because they filter your Facebook feed just like the official Facebook app does.
Fast for Facebook, Atrium, Stream, and Flipster
Fast for Facebook is designed to limit data traffic and go easy on your battery. It won't push any Facebook updates by itself unless you choose to install its push notifications plugin.
Atrium has an excessive amount of annoying ads, and there's no ad-free version. Maybe the ads pay more than Atrium can make from selling their app? Of course you can simply use an ad blocker like AdAway so you never have to look at those annoying ads. Or just forget about Atrium, because its user interface isn't that good. For example, to refresh your Facebook feed in Atrium you have to take a trip to the menu. Atrium could really use a pull-to-refresh option or refresh button.
Stream is a lean Facebook app that tries to ruin the experience with very annoying ads, so get the full version or use an ad blocker.
Flipster is a light-weight Facebook app that's not ready for human consumption. It doesn't show posts that don't have pictures in them, and if you want to post something or send a message you'll often find that you can't. Maybe Flipster will evolve into a usable Facebook client, but for now you better stick with one of the other apps.
Wrappers for the Facebook mobile website
Why use a Facebook app if you can just use their website? One reason for using an app is to get push notifications, another reason is to manage your privacy settings. But if you want to do those things from the mobile website, there's an app for that. In fact, there's more than one.
FBM, Tinfoil, and Connector are wrappers around the mobile Facebook website that add extra features. They show everything you'd see on the Facebook website, including things you'd rather not see such as sponsored content. You can switch push notifications off (the official Facebook app won't let you do that), or you can switch 'em on (which the mobile website won't do). And these apps let you manage your facebook privacy settings and other controls, which you can't do with the full-blown Facebook apps. The exception is facebook web, which is a bare bones Facebook browser without any options or push notifications.
All these website wrappers lack a scroll thumb for quick navigation through your Facebook feed, but Tinfoil has a "jump to top" button in its menu. If the mobile version is too limited for you, Tinfoil can display the full Facebook site too.
A more serious problem that bites all Facebook site wrappers is that they have difficulties posting pictures to albums. And when I tried Connector it popped up lots of errors about not being able to create a secure connection.
Imo is not a Facebook app, but a multi-network instant messenger that connects to Facebook chat and other chat networks. Facebook chatting in imo works better than in any other Facebook app.
Choose your weapon
If you don't mind the lack of filtering, use Friendcaster (my current favourite) or Seesmic. If you want to keep your Facebook feed filtered, use Atrium if you have an ad blocker or Fast if you don't want to block ads or buy the ad-free version.
Don't want a full Facebook app? Then get Tinfoil or FBM.
There are more Facebook apps out there, but I stayed away from apps that haven't been updated in ages. I didn't touch Scope and Hootsuite because they require their own app-specific account in addition to your Facebook login.
Full Facebook apps:
• Friendcaster (very good Facebook app, no filtering)
• Seesmic (Facebook and Twitter app, no filtering)
• Fast (good Facebook app with filtering)
• Atrium (with obnoxious ads)
• Stream (with annoying ads)
• Flipster (not ready for use yet)
• Facebook (official app, sucks big time)
Wrappers around the mobile Facebook site:
• facebook web (bugs!)
• imo (use an old version, because the new interface didn't improve things)