How Facebook Makes Their Apps Better with Separation and Consolidation

It might seem contradictory, but what I took from a recent Facebook post on how they develop iOS apps is that by letting users play with a focused app (like Messenger or Camera) we get a better experience in the consolidated app. Taking a unified codebase and good team work, with priorities set with the user in mind, you can make great strides in app development

I think Facebook for iOS is an app we all loved to hate, but let’s be fair, it’s gotten better. Certainly there are things missing that we’d like to see (ahem, sharing), but I think Facebook is getting there. If you read the entire post I’m quoting from below you should note that Facebook for iOS started with one person, not a team. I think we should be happy that the first versions even worked at all!

 

In regards to the quote below. Here’s what is important. Facebook is looking at what people like and use in the Camera app (for example) and putting some of those features into the main app (like multiple photo selection…which I’d like to see in the iPad version!), but not all. Also there are stand alone app functions, like the Page Manager, that don’t need to be in the main app. I’d dare say most Facebook users don’t have a Facebook Page they manage. Certainly there are a lot who do, but I liked having the Page management features together in one app. Would I, personally, like them in the main app too? Well sure, but I was also helping to manage over 10 Facebook Pages—I’m an edge case.

Not every feature from the standalone apps makes sense for the core app, so as the Facebook for iOS PM, one of my jobs is to make sure that the features we share across apps result in the best user experience. So while the swipe gesture to reveal the camera roll works really well within the Camera app – we chose not to include this in the core app because the gesture doesn’t make sense with our persistent top navigation bar. To make it into the core app, a feature has to add significant value to the integrated experience, regardless of how critical it is in one of our standalone apps.
Via: Facebook

For development teams—I fully admit I haven’t worked on an iOS dev team, but I have worked on app dev teams—I think there is a powerful lesson to be learned from pulling out a section or function of an app and throwing it out there to see how what you learn can help your larger app. Of course, many teams don’t have the luxury of people or money like Facebook has to throw against app development, but…

How would you approach making something a native Facebook app? Are there web experience that you don’t think would translate well to a touch interface? Which site/service do you use think most deserves a fully-native app?

HT: 9to5Mac

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  • Jerry WSL

    Copy and paste you be a good starting point!

    • http://trishussey.com Tris Hussey

      Well you know it did take Apple awhile to get that on the iPhone… ;-)

    • Kiwiholden

      It is intentionally blocked. I would like to hear their reasons for it but I think one would be to stop some of the spam like (Facebook will cost money soon copy this)

  • http://www.facebook.com/THExREALxTACO Jeremy Taco Patterson

    I’m with you, Tris. It has come a LONG way, but leaving out something as fundamental to FB as SHARING… Come. On.

    I do like TV separation of various aspects, allowing the main FB app to be relatively streamlined, is a good idea.

    Another thing I can’t wait for them to add is in-text tagging. You can tag somebody in a status, check-in, or photo, but you can’t tag somebody in a reply to any of those.

    • http://trishussey.com Tris Hussey

      Yes! Tagging in line. Holy crap please.

      • http://www.facebook.com/THExREALxTACO Jeremy Taco Patterson

        Did todays update bring in-line tagging????????!!!!!!!????????

  • Kiwiholden

    A good start would be a app with out major bugs. Their latest update has made the app unusable, it no longer loads new posts and is getting days behind.
    And to make it worse I’m getting notifications when people make new statuses or add photos because I have them in my favourites