Announced today, Facebook for Android version 2.0 is officially out and has received quite a decent speed boost. According to Facebook's blog post, the app is twice as fast at displaying photos and Timeline items.
Previously, the Facebook app functioned in a sort of hybrid native/web view, which was a major reason for its sluggish performance. With today's update, however, users will get to enjoy a completely rebuilt app, made entirely with native code — this is a big deal. The main news feed, notifications and Timeline should feel faster, and photo loading times should be cut as well. Also, the story banner now automatically updates and pushes up new stories, no matter where you are in the news feed.
The Timeline definitely scrolls faster, the menu and chat sections now fly, but some of the speed increase is purely perception. Rather than loading a whole new page when you tap on comments and having to wait an interminably long period looking at a blank loading screen, the comments now pop up over the feed view. Fragments of pages can now load step-by-step rather than waiting for the whole page, and low resolution images can be loaded first to give the illusion of speed. Photos do load a lot quicker, and this is helped by using the same image in the feed as is shown when you tap on it, just simply cropped.
Whereas previous updates to the Facebook for Android app may have resulted in marginal speed improvements, this update should be taken as something more noteworthy. Now that the preferred (fully native) infrastructure is in place, users can only expect the app to get significantly faster and to run more smoothly from here on out.
The new Facebook for Android 2.0 is now live on Google Play.