Talking tech since 2003

Yesterday was something of a traumatic day for me. After upgrading my Dell Latitude 10 tablet to Windows 8.1, I had some pretty raunchy software issues, not least of which being my first glimpse of the infamous Blue Screen of Death, newly rechristened as the Wallpaper Pattern of Death. Later that night, while reading with my Kindle app in bed, I saw it a second time—needless to say, my Windows 8.1 experience has been less than ideal. Fortunately, the long-awaited Facebook App for Windows—which launched the same day as Windows 8.1—has worked like a charm.

While using Facebook through a web browser on Windows 8 has been fine, the touch-optimized app released yesterday is actually a pretty big improvement. Buttons are more finger-friendly, and in-app chat works really, really well. Want proof? Behold this conversation with fellow BestTechie writer, Landon Robinson:

facebook-windows-8-app-2

Why, yes, that cover image is an advertisement for my band’s CD release party happening next Saturday. How’d that get in there?

Anyway, the ability to expand the chat window on the right side of the screen is really helpful for making the most of your space. I’ve always had a hatred for the little pop-up chat boxes from Facebook in a web-browser, so I’m pleased that the app’s designers took advantage of having a fresh canvas to improve the service’s user interface.

I was also able to post a photo to one of the pages I manage—hey, it’s the page for my band, the Lost Wheels!—without any problems. Check it out:

facebook-windows-8-app-3

And there’s also the addition of “Nearby,” a mobile-specific function that I’m pretty sure is either not easy to access via the web, or simply not there. Bringing up Nearby presents a map of, well, whatever’s nearby, along with check-ins from your Facebook friends. My neighborhood is pretty residential, and free of my Facebook contacts, but expanding the view outward with pinch-and-zoom reveals a flurry of activity. It’s a pretty cool feature, and it all works great so far.

Even still, it takes a little getting used to, and there are a few tweaks that could be implemented to bring it that much closer to perfection. For instance, I’m pretty used to tapping the “News Feed” button to refresh everything, especially when I’ve scrolled to the bottom of my feed. But doing that in the app doesn’t work—not unless I’m already in a different section, like “Messages” or “Events.” To refresh, you’ve got to flick from the top or bottom of the screen, and bring up the “Refresh” button. It’s a Windows 8 touch-interface quirk I’m still getting accustomed to.

Overall, the Facebook App is a bright spot in what’s been an otherwise somewhat depressing OS update. I’m hoping that Microsoft will get 8.1 running more smoothly soon—and that if I have to switch back to plain Windows 8, I’ll still have access to the Facebook App.


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