Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Chat Heads comes to Facebook for iOS 6.0

If you really, really want to get your hands on Facebook's Home app, but are outside the U.S., rejoice. At the Dive Into Mobile conference on Tuesday, the head of mobile engineering at Facebook, Cory Ondrejka, said that the app would be rolling out to non-U.S. Play Stores starting that same day.

In addition, Ondrejka announced that the first update to Facebook Home for Android will be released in "the second week of May." While this is in line with Facebook's promise that it will update its mobile apps on a monthly basis, Ondrejka declined to add what changes the new version would include.

At the same time, on Tuesday iOS users got a small sample of the changes that Android users receive with Facebook Home. While there is no way to replace the app launcher in iOS, as can be done in Android, on Tuesday the company also released Facebook 6.0 on iOS.

Although Facebook 6.0 for iOS includes a few design tweaks, but the main focus of the update is in Facebook Messenger.

For one, while within the Facebook app, users can pop-out Chat Heads for conversations. You might recall that Chat Heads refers to the round icon with the face of whomever you're talking to. However, unlike the more open Android, users won't be seeing Chat Heads anywhere, but the actual Facebook app (in Android, Chat Heads are persistent and can appear via SMS messages, too).

The limitations to Chat Heads are because of iOS' containerized format.

Ondrejka said:
iOS doesn't give hooks to [allow Chat Heads] to be persistent across the entire device.
Facebook for iOS also received another feature update: digital stickers.

Stickers are basically large, emoji-like images that you can send with just a tap. They're available in "packs" of related images that end users can download and then send.

Finally, Facebook's iPad app received a UI refresh, too. Facebook took what seemed to some to be forever to release an iPad version. When the social media giant did release an iPad app, it seemed little more than a blown-up iPhone app. The new version shows that Facebook has finally given iPad optimization some thought.

The updated versions should be available in the App Store later today.

No comments: