Facebook created new versions of its official apps for Android
and Apple phones and revamped its mobile-optimized Web site,
m.facebook.com, which works for most other smartphones.
The only thing constant about Facebook is that it keeps changing. Just when you think you have figured out the interface to the world's biggest social network, the engineers there update it again.
For the 600 million or so people who use their smartphones to stay on top of Facebook friends, recent weeks have been especially anxiety-producing. Recognizing some time ago that for many mobile users, their Facebook phone app is their primary or only way of access, the company unveiled a barrage of new features that bring the mobile apps in line with the desktop browser version of Facebook.
Facebook created new versions of its official apps for Android and Apple phones and revamped its mobile-optimized Web site, m.facebook.com, which works for most other smartphones. Facebook says the mobile site has more users than the Android and Apple apps combined.
Some new features are easy to spot. Friends' posts now include a Share option so you can repost their updates, pictures and links to your own timeline. But other features are more subtle, and take some poking around to figure out.
The most significant change to Facebook's mobile apps is that the News Feed, the real-time stream of updates from your Facebook friends, now provides the same sorting options as the desktop version: Top Stories and Most Recent. If you go a while without logging in, the app will set the sorting to Top Stories, which floats the updates from the friends with whom you interact the most to the top of the feed. If you would rather see posts sorted with the newest always on top, tap the gear icon next to News Feed on the app's main left-hand menu. (It can take a little practice to tap the gear rather than another control.) A menu will pop up that lets you choose your sorting preference.
Your photos now have a Make Profile Picture option, so you do not need to go back to a full-size computer to turn a photo taken on your phone into your identifying image. With an iPhone, press and hold the picture to bring up the command; in Android phones, it is an option in the overflow menu.
Facebook has also built its chat function into the mobile apps. Rather than the e-mail-like Message utility, Chat is designed for conversations in which both parties tap back and forth at the same time. To start a chat session, tap the human-silhouette icon in the upper right corner of the app. That will bring up a list of your friends who are available right now to start a chat session, either on their phones (indicated by a phone icon) or on their desktops (indicated by a green dot). There is a Favorites list you can edit to list only the friends you message most, so you do not have to pore through your entire list of available friends to find them every time.
Do you upload lots of photos to Facebook from your smartphone? You have two new options. First, you can now select more than one photo by tapping, to upload them together. You can also configure the app to automatically upload every image you shoot to a private album from which you can later share them with a couple of taps. To turn on this feature, called Photo Sync, go to your timeline and tap your Photos icon.
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