Windows Phone has a great relationship with social networks, integrating Windows Live, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook into its People hub. This integration means that the user can quickly check statuses, reply to posts and messages, share photos and generally save time by keeping their online social experience centralized.
It doesn’t always work this way, however. While these services are integrated into the OS, some of their functions are limited. For Facebook users, for instance, there is a limit on what you can do in terms of dealing with friend requests, for example.
In this case, you might prefer to rely not on the integrated services but on the Facebook app itself.
What Does the Facebook App Do?
The first thing you will notice when launching the Facebook app for the first time is that it is capable of delivering a more integrated Facebook experience than found in the People hub. We’ll look at this in more detail below.
Status updates, news feed, photos of friends and access to groups and pages that you have become a member of/liked are all accessible via the Facebook apps, as are your profile details and those of your friends. Comments can be left on walls and other status messages events can be confirmed, denied and checked; the app offers the basic single-user, game-free Facebook experience.
That’s right – there are things this app doesn’t do, such as offer Facebook games, management of pages and groups. Fortunately, there is plenty that it does do, from adding locations and allowing the quick adding of photos to that all-important tagging of friends in status updates.
Status Updates and Messaging
Updating your Facebook status is very simple – from the News Feed view, swipe right and tap the grey “speech” box into which you can type your update. Commenting on your friends’ status updates is just as simple, requiring only a tap to open it and add your thoughts. Meanwhile a Like button is placed at the bottom of the screen. You can also “poke” friends.
While real-time messaging isn’t possible through the app (this is a feature of the Windows Phone Messaging hub, however) you can still access the Facebook messenger/Inbox service, indicated by a pair of ghosted speech bubbles at the top of the screen. This can be opened by tapping the speech bubbles, whereupon your inbox is displayed. Note that for regular users of the Facebook Inbox, this can be pinned to the start screen.
Photo Tools: Sharing, Integrating
One of the strengths of integrating Facebook into Windows Phone is the instant upload feature that can be enabled when photos are snapped on your device camera. The Facebook app takes this a step further, enabling easy access to your friends’ photos as well as fast tagging for uploading.
Better still is the integration of the photos with your Windows Phone. When you first launch the Facebook app, you will be asked if you want to display banner images from your collection and activate a lock screen based on the same galleries. Both options can be enabled or disabled later from the Settings page, resulting in a vibrant, always-changing picture of your life – in your hand!
Comparison with the People Hub
In many ways, the Facebook app duplicates many of the features of the People Hub in Windows Phone. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use the app however. First of all, as you will see from its Windows Phone Store listing, this is a free app.
Neither, of course, has the advantage of being able to provide access to Facebook games (for various reasons) and if all you use Facebook for is checking what your friends are up to then you won’t need to bother with the app.
However, you will find that there are considerable advantages over the native tools if you want to engage in some heavy social networking. The photo integration is reason enough!
You might think that given the fact it is merely bells and whistles to the native tools that the Facebook app is somewhat extraneous. In truth, it depends on your requirements – what you expect to be able to do with your social network from the comfort of your Windows Phone.
Sadly, gaming isn’t an option, but this is true of all Facebook apps on this platform.
Indeed, there are arguably better Facebook apps since the release of Windows Phone 8. But what you get with this Microsoft-produced tool is something that is closely integrated with the operating system, an app that extends the functions of the native People Hub integration and ultimately provides stable and reliable access to your Facebook account.
The improvements that have been made to the latest version (as opposed to the Facebook app when it was first released in 2010) make this an app that is at the very least worth a look.