Oh, the joys of having social media available to us at any time of day thanks to the advent of the smartphone. Facebook has always been (at least on the surface) about connecting with your friends and family and staying updated without having to meet up in person every few days. And in that sense, mobile Facebook apps have ushered in a new era of information convenience.
But when it comes to Android, the official Facebook app is not perfect. Depending on your device, it may be slow or glitchy or downright unusable. However, not all is lost. The beauty of Google Play is that numerous alternative Android Facebook apps abound. So the real question is: do any of these alternatives improve on the official Facebook app?
Overview: Just based off of my first impressions, Atrium seems like it’s trying to be the replacement for the default Facebook Android app. The interface and feature set looks pretty similar, so if you’re looking for an almost-identical copy with fewer bugs and better performance, Atrium may be your choice. Plus, it’s entirely FREE.
Pros: Extremely good performance. My device is approximately three years old and Atrium ran as smoothly as I could’ve asked. The interface is intuitive, smartly designed, and minimal without being ugly or plain. Lots of customization available, though I’m particularly fond of the “load images over WiFi only” and “don’t run in background” options.
Cons: As hard as I try, I honestly cannot find any flaws with this app. I’ve heard that some devices may have problems logging into Facebook, but it seems like a rare enough occurrence that it might just be user error.
Overview: Friendcaster has been around for a while, currently on version 5.0 and boasting over 3 million downloads since its debut. As far as I can tell, the developers have a serious focus on performance over eye candy.
Pros: As soon as I logged in, Friendcaster walked me through with a setup wizard. One unique feature (as of right now) is that Friendcaster has push notifications for Facebook alerts when no other app has it. Personally, I love the sleek and simple interface; it actually makes me want to use this alternative Android Facebook app. Supports multiple Facebook accounts for ease of switching.
Cons: Like Atrium, some users may have trouble logging into Facebook with Friendcaster. The push notifications may glitch every once in a while. Similarly, the app may crash when you scroll through too many news feed posts.
Overview: I actually went into Stream thinking that it’d be a huge disappointment. I’ve heard many good things about it, but I was immediately put off by its subpar aesthetics. But I’m glad I gave it a deeper look because this app has some good stuff going for it.
Pros: Stream is fast. Really fast. Even after I’d loaded a multiple pages of my news feed, I could scroll and scroll and scroll without any hiccups or freezes. This app also has all of the standard features you could want from Facebook: notifications, search, comments and pages, checkins, etc. Plus, you can customize a lot of settings to maximize performance, like turning off background updates.
Cons: Like I mentioned before, Stream doesn’t have the prettiest interface. The design and layout are all right, but the colors are either too garish or too muted or too cramped depending on which part of the app you’re using. You may experience login troubles and crashes depending on your device. If you don’t like ads or if you really need Facebook’s Chat feature, then you’ll need to pay $3.24 USD for the Pro version.
Overview: Fast is one of the newer apps in the Android Facebook market and it has made some big splashes with its presence. It’s currently in beta so you shouldn’t expect a perfect app, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a shoddy piece of work either – in fact, it has a bunch of great features and looks very polished. If you don’t like it as it is right now, do keep your eye on its progress because there’s a lot of potential here.
Pros: Extremely polished interface that looks modern and feels pleasant to navigate. Fast handles all of the basic and necessary features of Facebook (notifications, messages, walls, search, albums, etc.). Lots of progress in a short amount of time, which bodes well for future versions.
Cons: Despite the pretty aesthetics, Fast does not perform well in terms of speed and responsiveness, which is to be expected for an app in beta. I did experience some problems with image loading and zooming. Ad-supported in the free version, though you can get rid of them by paying $1.95 USD for the Pro version.
To be honest, I try not to use Facebook (or any social media) while on the go because the activity can be addictive and might quickly snowball out of hand. However, these alternative Android Facebook apps have really made me reconsider my stance because most of them have made the experience so much easier than the default app.
If you like Facebook on your Android, I highly recommend checking out the above apps. If there are any other Android Facebook apps that you think belong on this list, share them with us in the comments!