Facebook, Windows Phone, and the App Hub model: a new Facebook App beta moves away from “Metro”

By Kip Kniskern | In Mobile | Posted April 30, 2013 32 comments

facebook phoneToday, Microsoft announced a new beta app for Windows Phone, apparently developed jointly with Facebook: the Facebook for Windows Phone Beta app.  This new app, completely redesigned to look less like Metro and more like Facebook’s other apps for Android and Apple, is available now and can be installed next to the current Facebook for Windows Phone app (version 4.2.1) – no need to uninstall one to use the other.

The new app, aside from the “major redesign” also includes support for:

  • high-res photos
  • post sharing
  • Facebook Timeline

It is a beta, and according to the blog post on the Windows Phone blog announcing the beta:

Don’t like it when apps crash? This probably isn’t the program for you.

 

What’s interesting about the newest Facebook app is not only that it has moved away from the Metro look and feel of the previous version, but also that Microsoft’s vision of an app agnostic People Hub where Twitter, Facebook, and the like all fell under a single, Metro-fied hub is rapidly giving way to what we’re sure Facebook would much rather see: a Facebook branded and Facebook controlled experience.

Do you access Facebook on your Windows Phone through the People Hub, or from the dedicated Facebook app, and if so, which one do you prefer?  Would you rather your Facebook app on Windows Phone look “Metro”, or should it carry the Facebook look and feel?  You can give the new-look Facebook app a try (it’s only available through a direct link, it won’t show up in the Windows Phone Store search results, in order to avoid confusion) and let us know what you think in the comments.

Posted April 30th, 2013 at 11:04 am
Category: Mobile
Tags: Apps, Facebook, Windows Phone
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1609939118 Jeffrey Stewart

    I uninstalled the facebook app and use the People Hub. What sucks it you cant share anything from the hub so I use the good ole touch.facebook.com mobile site when needed.

    • http://twitter.com/jwk6 Jason Kohlhoff

      Jeffrey – You can share from the People Hub by tapping the picture of yourself (under “all”), or using the ME tile if you’ve pinned it to the start screen. Also use the share option within applications, like “share page” option in Internet Explorer.

  • Jeffrey

    I uninstalled the facebook app and use the People Hub. What sucks it you cant share anything from the hub so I use the good ole touch.facebook.com mobile site when needed.

    • Jason Kohlhoff

      Jeffrey – You can share from the People Hub by tapping the picture of yourself (under “all”), or using the ME tile if you’ve pinned it to the start screen. Also use the share option within applications, like “share page” option in Internet Explorer.

  • http://gregsedwards.wordpress.com/ Greg Edwards

    That was pretty much my impression immediately after I launched it. It feels just like the Facebook app on my wife’s iPhone. Just doing a flat skin has become the lite version of Metro, and the FB Beta app does alright within that scope, but I really miss the little flourishes that made the previous version feel more like it fit into the Windows Phone framework – like the big title, the panorama, and the hint of what’s on the next screen. Navigating within this new release does feel pretty snappy and surprisingly stable for a beta.
    As someone works across several different social networks, I still love the idea of a unified experience through the People hub, and it’s probably how I still access my updates most frequently. But it’s disappointing at times. It doesn’t seem to filter according to the same algorithm as FB, cause I get tons of crap there that I’ve filtered out of my News Feed. It has odd limitations, such as being able to like an update but not a comment, seeing that “3 people liked this update” but not being able to tell who those people are, or being able to like a picture only after you’ve clicked the button to comment on it. If they can’t completely replicate the core experience (and I do consider those core features), then I guess why bother?

    • http://twitter.com/jwk6 Jason Kohlhoff

      I agree regarding the unified experience, however I don’t think it needs to replicate experience of the social network. I don’t need or want every detail that I can see when I use Facebook.com or the Facebook app. I think the people hub works perfectly with a “simpler” service like Twitter.
      I actually find that using Groups is the best way to get the most out of the People hub. I create groups that are a mix of Facebook and Twitter contacts, like Windows Phone, Gaming, etc. for example, and then pin the group to my start screen. You can read, comment/reply and retweet from What’s new, and that’s pretty useful!

  • http://gregsedwards.wordpress.com/ Greg Edwards

    That was pretty much my impression immediately after I launched it. It feels just like the Facebook app on my wife’s iPhone. Just doing a flat skin has become the lite version of Metro, and the FB Beta app does alright within that scope, but I really miss the little flourishes that made the previous version feel more like it fit into the Windows Phone framework – like the big title, the panorama, and the hint of what’s on the next screen. Navigating within this new release does feel pretty snappy and surprisingly stable for a beta.
    As someone works across several different social networks, I still love the idea of a unified experience through the People hub, and it’s probably how I still access my updates most frequently. But it’s disappointing at times. It doesn’t seem to filter according to the same algorithm as FB, cause I get tons of crap there that I’ve filtered out of my News Feed. It has odd limitations, such as being able to like an update but not a comment, seeing that “3 people liked this update” but not being able to tell who those people are, or being able to like a picture only after you’ve clicked the button to comment on it. If they can’t completely replicate the core experience (and I do consider those core features), then I guess why bother?

    • Jason Kohlhoff

      I agree regarding the unified experience, however I don’t think it needs to replicate experience of the social network. I don’t need or want every detail that I can see when I use Facebook.com or the Facebook app. I think the people hub works perfectly with a “simpler” service like Twitter.
      I actually find that using Groups is the best way to get the most out of the People hub. I create groups that are a mix of Facebook and Twitter contacts, like Windows Phone, Gaming, etc. for example, and then pin the group to my start screen. You can read, comment/reply and retweet from What’s new, and that’s pretty useful!

  • jimmyz

    I hate facebook period…. Lol when will it just go away like myspace.

  • jimmyz

    I hate facebook period…. Lol when will it just go away like myspace.

  • Technogran -

    I tend to use the People hub all the time, but I’m giving this a whirl.

  • Technogran -

    I tend to use the People hub all the time, but I’m giving this a whirl.

  • n1cks

    I use a combination of the People Hub & the touch.Facebook.

    Pros of the People Hub:

    > great for viewing photos and albums. Not only do photos load quickly, it also pre-loads photos for quick viewing.

    People Hub wish list:

    I’m okay with the Hub’s limited functionality.. because it’s great for an ‘in & out’ FB experience.. but I would like:
    > the ability to like comments.
    > the ability to upload a photo with check-ins (as an aside the check-in feature doesn’t seem to be working at the mo).
    > larger photos in the feed

    I use touch.facebook.com for more hardcore Facebooking. I use it more than the People Hub because it has full size photos in the feed. I ‘touch & hold’ links to open in a new tab so not to lose my place.

    The Old FB app; it sucks. Only use for check-ins with photos.. & Messages.

    New FB beta app: Looks great so far. Love the full size photos in the feed. Photo & album viewing is much improved, but still not quite as good as the People Hubs (why?)..
    There still doesn’t seem to be a tile notification for likes?

    Everyone uses FB differently.. there are lots of options on Windows Phone, but none of them prefect.

    While the new FB beta is good, I’d like Microsoft to improve the People Hub.

  • n1cks

    I use a combination of the People Hub & the touch.Facebook.

    Pros of the People Hub:

    > great for viewing photos and albums. Not only do photos load quickly, it also pre-loads photos for quick viewing.

    People Hub wish list:

    I’m okay with the Hub’s limited functionality.. because it’s great for an ‘in & out’ FB experience.. but I would like:
    > the ability to like comments.
    > the ability to upload a photo with check-ins (as an aside the check-in feature doesn’t seem to be working at the mo).
    > larger photos in the feed

    I use touch.facebook.com for more hardcore Facebooking. I use it more than the People Hub because it has full size photos in the feed. I ‘touch & hold’ links to open in a new tab so not to lose my place.

    The Old FB app; it sucks. Only use for check-ins with photos.. & Messages.

    New FB beta app: Looks great so far. Love the full size photos in the feed. Photo & album viewing is much improved, but still not quite as good as the People Hubs (why?)..
    There still doesn’t seem to be a tile notification for likes?

    Everyone uses FB differently.. there are lots of options on Windows Phone, but none of them prefect.

    While the new FB beta is good, I’d like Microsoft to improve the People Hub.

  • PartyAnimal

    That was my impression too.. Expected a really great metro style Facebook launch page.. Hope they go back to metro style…

  • PartyAnimal

    That was my impression too.. Expected a really great metro style Facebook launch page.. Hope they go back to metro style…

  • Jason

    I just want to clarify that this is NOT moving away from Metro. Metro (now ‘modern’) is a design style where it utilizes clean, flat colours, and puts content over chrome with an emphasis on typography and flat icons. The new beta app still fits this style. The content is more prominent in this beta than it was before, and the UI elements only show the key navigation controls with everything else hidden with a swipe to the left/right. Dare I say, it’s even MORE Metro than it was before, as the header took so much room and the content was small and less emphasized in the previous/current version.
    Also, they are not moving away from the App Hub model. They made it clear the People Hub was not a replacement for those networks, but rather a one-stop shop for all your feeds and sharing across your networks. The individual apps are for full functionality of those networks when you need it or for those who prefer it.

    • http://josedmorales.net/ Joe Morales

      What’s interesting though is that most of, dare I say ALL, Windows Phone app have this header that seems now a pain to most users (surprised). Although they are certainly several Modern UI elements, there is chrome within the app.

      • James

        Yes, but you’re still allowed to have chrome in metro. It just should not be primary focus of the design. The content is still front and center. I do think they could make the buttons smaller, but it’s obviously that size to be touch friendly. Even so, it’s still metro.

        See the ‘metro’ designer’s comment as well:
        http://www.wpcentral.com/why-new-facebook-app-windows-phone-still-very-modern

        • http://josedmorales.net/ Joe Morales

          I read Mr. Toledo’s article and although it did put things in perspective they are parts that sound more like an excuse for what’s going on now than of an explanation.

          If Microsoft never intended to force apps to be and feel the same, they would’ve created apps with different UX from the start… that is since 2010. Therefore, people wouldn’t complain now. Here Microsoft is the guilty party, not the audience.

          And I’m sorry but I respectfully disagree with your point than content still is the primary focus within this Facebook Beta app. Yes, there are no shadows, flat colors and 2 dimensional icons but it is just that and nothing more.

          What I agree though is that Windows Phone needs the important apps so bad that it has to do whatever it can in order to get them to this platform; that is even giving up on some areas. This I can take for an answer.

  • Jason

    I just want to clarify that this is NOT moving away from Metro. Metro (now ‘modern’) is a design style where it utilizes clean, flat colours, and puts content over chrome with an emphasis on typography and flat icons. The new beta app still fits this style. The content is more prominent in this beta than it was before, and the UI elements only show the key navigation controls with everything else hidden with a swipe to the left/right. Dare I say, it’s even MORE Metro than it was before, as the header took so much room and the content was small and less emphasized in the previous/current version.
    Also, they are not moving away from the App Hub model. They made it clear the People Hub was not a replacement for those networks, but rather a one-stop shop for all your feeds and sharing across your networks. The individual apps are for full functionality of those networks when you need it or for those who prefer it.

    • http://josedmorales.net/ Joe

      What’s interesting though is that most of, dare I say ALL, Windows Phone app have this header that seems now a pain to most users (surprised). Although they are certainly several Modern UI elements, there is chrome within the app.

      • James

        Yes, but you’re still allowed to have chrome in metro. It just should not be primary focus of the design. The content is still front and center. I do think they could make the buttons smaller, but it’s obviously that size to be touch friendly. Even so, it’s still metro.

        See the ‘metro’ designer’s comment as well:
        http://www.wpcentral.com/why-new-facebook-app-windows-phone-still-very-modern

        • http://josedmorales.net/ Joe

          I read Mr. Toledo’s article and although it did put things in perspective they are parts that sound more like an excuse for what’s going on now than of an explanation.

          If Microsoft never intended to force apps to be and feel the same, they would’ve created apps with different UX from the start… that is since 2010. Therefore, people wouldn’t complain now. Here Microsoft is the guilty party, not the audience.

          And I’m sorry but I respectfully disagree with your point than content still is the primary focus within this Facebook Beta app. Yes, there are no shadows, flat colors and 2 dimensional icons but it is just that and nothing more.

          What I agree though is that Windows Phone needs the important apps so bad that it has to do whatever it can in order to get them to this platform; that is even giving up on some areas. This I can take for an answer.

  • Dillon

    The People Hub is the way to go- I never use the Facebook app. I can get my quick Facebook fix (I’m not a heavy user, I really hate Facebook) from the Hub, along with much more detailed contact info a lot faster.

    I think Microsoft needs to put more into improving the People Hub. Some things I’d like to see:
    -Ability to like comments
    -More posts shown
    -Ability to favorite tweets directly from the Hub
    -Replies to a tweet need to be added to the conversation thread on Twitter
    -Replying to a tweet should automatically include all names in the conversation

    Really small issues.

  • Dillon

    The People Hub is the way to go- I never use the Facebook app. I can get my quick Facebook fix (I’m not a heavy user, I really hate Facebook) from the Hub, along with much more detailed contact info a lot faster.

    I think Microsoft needs to put more into improving the People Hub. Some things I’d like to see:
    -Ability to like comments
    -More posts shown
    -Ability to favorite tweets directly from the Hub
    -Replies to a tweet need to be added to the conversation thread on Twitter
    -Replying to a tweet should automatically include all names in the conversation

    Really small issues.

  • Sed P

    Why isn’t this available for 7.x wtf

  • Sed P

    Why isn’t this available for 7.x wtf

  • James

    It’s still metro dude… learn your design principles.
    http://www.wpcentral.com/why-new-facebook-app-windows-phone-still-very-modern

  • James

    It’s still metro dude… learn your design principles.
    http://www.wpcentral.com/why-new-facebook-app-windows-phone-still-very-modern

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