Close on the heels of the website refresh, Facebook is pushing out a major revamp of its Android app. I am not a very big fan of the recent Facebook website redesign; it took an already cluttered user interface and made it even worse. Fortunately, the changes on the Android front are a lot more positive.
The new app feels a lot more vibrant and cheerful, mainly due to the use of lighter and brighter shades throughout the UI. Everything is also distinctively flatter.
The top bar has been split into two, and the navigation drawer on the left has been removed. The new layout is not only more visually appealing, but also more intuitive.
The upper half has just two buttons – one for Search and the other for accessing phone contacts. The second half contains all the navigation options including Friend Requests, Messages, Notifications, and Profile and Settings.
The new Android interface is more compliant with the Android design philosophy, and is definitely a step in the right direction for Facebook. Unfortunately, it’s still not ready for prime time. It’s currently only available for the Facebook alpha testers. If you want it right away, there are a few hoops you’ll have to jump through.
- Go to the Facebook Alpha Testers group and signup with your Google account. This needs to be the same one that you’re using for the Play Store.
- Once you’ve signed up successfully, you should be able to see the following page.
- Follow this link to become an alpha tester. If all goes well, you’d be able to see a message stating “You are a tester”.
- Now open the Play Store on your mobile phone, and you should be able to see an option to update Facebook. Download and install the update.
- Go to Settings –> Apps –> Facebook. The current version of the Alpha build is 126.96.36.199.19. Your version should be same or higher.
- ‘Force Stop’ the app, and ‘Clear Data’.
- Launch the Facebook app. You will have to sign in once again. Once you login, you should be able to see the new Facebook layout.
Please keep in mind that Facebook builds released in the alpha channel are expected to be buggy. They might be buggy, crash-prone, or might not work at all. If you want to go back to the normal build, simply “Quit the Test“, and un-install and re-install the Facebook app from the Play Store.