Over the past decade our thirst for information has led us to pick up devices that deliver what we want faster and faster. Want to check the weather? You no longer have to step out your front door. Just power up your iPhone or iPad and get the day’s full report in seconds. Need the answer to a trivia question? Pop your smartphone out of your pocket and Google what you’re looking for. Even our social interactions have sped up, with Facebook and Twitter now allowing people to keep up with friends and family all over the world in real time. Yet people still find things to gripe about. iPhone users have been very disappointed with the speed of the Facebook app on their service. Check out the app store and you’ll find almost two-thirds of the Facebook app reviewers have given it one star, with most of the complaints being crashes and super slow loading times. Well, it seems that’s about to change, as Facebook is poised to directly address the speed of their app for iPhones.
Although it hasn’t yet gone public, two nameless Facebook engineers have made public whispers that next month the speed of their iPhone app will go through the roof. Apparently, Facebook went back to the drawing board on their iOS app, and will be relaunching a brand new version completely optimized for speed. Of course, Facebook didn’t officially comment, as it is their policy not to announce products before they are ready for release. But the two engineers who spoke to the New York Times were happy to fill in some of the details.
The primary difference is the programming language that will be used to rebuild the Facebook app. The previous iOS app was built with HTML5, a web-based markup language that is often used for android apps. The HTML5 Facebook app was then placed within the shell of an Objective-C app. The vast majority of iOS apps are built entirely using Objective-C. According to the Facebook engineers, their new iOS app is being built using that native language, which should significantly speed up its processing.
With apps built using HTML5, they generally work by rendering the app as a web page. It connects with the browser and pulls all the required content and images from the web into the application. Objective-C works completely differently. It works natively with the iPhone, and the apps have the majority of the web content built right into it. That means less pulling down from the website, and faster loading times all around.
The new Facebook app has been reviewed, even though it hasn’t been released yet, and the early word is that its speed puts the last version to shame. According to the unnamed Facebook engineers, the app is in the testing phase, and should be released as an update for all iPhone users some time this summer. The design will be exactly the same, so there won’t be any new fancy bells and whistles. But users who have been so frustrated by the snail pace that they’ve submitted their phones for repair through the iPhone insurance cover for your gadget program, the simple speed improvement should be a hugely welcome change.