[tl;dr] Facebook for Windows Phone breaks out of its Metro shell

The Windows Phone team today announced on its blog that they public a beta version of the Facebook Windows Phone app to test with users new features (and a new user interface) before rolling it out to the general public.

  • The new UI makes a departure from the traditional Windows Phone panoramic & pivot controls to more traditional page navigation structures found on iOS and Android.
  • The app is much more aligned with the current Facebook iOS and Android apps, using the slide-out sidebar mechanisms on the left and right side for navigation and chat list respectively, and even pull-to-refresh!
  • Having said that, the visual styling is still heavily Metro-inspired with the iconic flat icons, Segoe UI and appbar control.
  • It also seems to bring feature-parity to the Windows Phone app which has long been lacking in minor but sometimes useful features. (Previously it was necessary to use web touch.facebook.com in some cases)
  • I believe This hybrid “ported-UI” and Metro is a better balance of functionality and Metro-ness than the previous version.
  • There are still missing features that isn’t iOS-parity, for example the ability to tag friends in comments by typing their name.
  • I think for well-established brands & apps like Facebook, “ported-UIs” will make it much easier for these companies to deliver and maintain feature-parity apps on the Windows Phone platform. A completely unique Metro experience puts a lot of burden on design and engineering that is consistently hard to justify at a cost-basis in relations to market share.
  • International users won’t be able to download the US version but by simply changing the URL (ex. en-US to en-AU) you should be able to download it in different regions.

7 insightful thoughts

  1. I also agree on a lot of these things.
    While it’s kinda sad that Microsoft (or is Facebook developing this one) is taking the app out of its metro UI, the one on iOS and Android was far more useful and easy to navigate. I also hope this shows other app developers that it’s possible to port an app from other platforms and still have it fit within the look and feel of Metro (even if it’s just in its iconography and font).

  2. This is wrong on so many levels. Just because the previous version wasn’t great doesn’t mean that a metro Facebook app isn’t possible. And it doesn’t really save money for the development because the markup and layout cant be ported but has to be re-created.

    Just some examples:
    Why did they create their own status bar at the top?
    Why isn’t the menu on the left integrated in the app bar? Same code, same design but it could be easier for the user and feel more natural on this platform.

    If the software is the same, why even create your own phone platform? It is sad that Microsoft is involved in this development in one or another way here.

  3. I’m a bit worried that it’s more like the iOS and Android versions, because the Facebook app for Windows Phone is by far the best of the three today.

    1. Sorry but I have to ask…
      In what way was the Windows Phone Facebook app better than those for iOS and Android?
      Speed? Because it was MUCH slower (on current-gen hardware)
      Design? Because the Windows Phone showed items in timelines and news feeds really small.
      Functionality? Because it lacked (and still does, though less now) a lot of the features that many people take for granted on a Facebook app.

      Maybe they could have tried to refine their metro-styled app, but if that was going to take much longer I’ll stick with this anytime now. Besides, now it looks consistent with the entire Facebook experience on any platform (including desktop web browsers).

  4. “I think for well-established brands & apps like Facebook, “ported-UIs” will make it much easier for these companies to deliver and maintain feature-parity apps on the Windows Phone platform. A completely unique Metro experience puts a lot of burden on design and engineering that is consistently hard to justify at a cost-basis in relations to market share.”

    Exactly. How do other people not understand this? This is probably one of two blog posts on this subject that are actually worth reading. Good job Long.

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