A big new update to Facebook’s iPhone app increases users’ ability to share items, and choose with whom they’re sharing them.
Facebook rolled out version 3.5 on the iTunes App Store, bringing with the update more capabilities that will help it compete with the new Google+ service. The big selling point of Google+ is that the whole service is geared toward not just sharing things openly, like status updates and photos, but in choosing different “circles” of friends or acquaintances, who get different levels of access.
Privacy hasn’t really been one of Facebook’s strong suits, and it has received quite a bit of flak from various groups about how Facebook makes it difficult to change privacy settings, or the ability of other users to tag people in photos or places. As Macworld reports, the new changes to the Facebook app mirror the changes to its website, which in turn mirror Google+. Users can now post things and choose exactly what audience will, and won’t, be able to see them.
Post options break down into three subsets: posts can go to just the public at large, just friends, or a customized group of friends. This isn’t too different from some features that Facebook already had available. Back when it was getting heat for its privacy troubles, Facebook rolled out updates that allowed users to choose between updates being open to the public or just visible by friends or friends of friends. But this new option does add a further degree of customization that lets users choose more accurately who can see what, and who can’t.
The app now makes re-sharing links on Facebook much easier than it was in the past, and offers the ability to add other people and locations to status updates, a feature that was previously relegated just to “check-ins” with Facebook Places.
What isn’t among the updates: Facebook’s oft-rumored and previously leaked iPad app, which the company has been reportedly working on for an entire year. That was hidden in an update to the Facebook iPhone app during a previous update, and users with jailbroken iPads were able to access and use it. From all accounts, it was pretty great, but Facebook disabled the iPad version with an update and we haven’t heard much about it since then.
Meanwhile, it seems Facebook’s primary focus is to bolster its position against Google+, or at least maintain itself as the leading social network in the world. It recently released another iPhone app, Facebook Messenger, which makes sending messages and chatting with Facebook users very easy using a smartphone. It allows Facebook to compete with the Google + “Huddle” feature, not to mention with SMS text messaging at large because it gives users access to Facebook’s full 750 million-strong user base.
Still, it seems like if Facebook really wants to stay on top and keep Google at bay, it should just do what everyone’s waiting for: release its spiffy new iPad app. We all know it’s coming after all, and like Facebook for iPhone, there’s no doubt it will be an incredibly popular download in the App Store.