Friday, March 16, 2012

Facebook android app usability issues

By Pratik Parikh

I have been using android Facebook application since last September, when I actually got HTC Wildfire S with android version 2.3.5 (gingerbread). Since then there have been lots of changes in Facebook android application. The current version of android Facebook application on my phone is 1.7.2. In terms of usability, they have really worked hard considering usability issues in previous versions of Facebook application. Still there are some issues which need attention. Let’s have a look at some of the usability issues which cannot be ignored.

Buttons on Friends screen
Firstly, the tabs provided on the bottom of the Friends screen are Friends, Pages and Requests. Starting with Friends tab, Friends screen having Friends tab seems confusing. Users might think I am inside Friends screen, what the Friends tab is now. It should be ‘My Friends’. 

Figure 1 : Friends button on Friends screen and Pages button on Friends screen 

Moreover, Pages have nothing to do with Friends screen. But still Pages tab is provided on Friends screen. Pages are the various Facebook pages user has subscribed to. This clearly is improper categorization. Similar things should be grouped together. One potential solution to this is placing ‘Pages’ on main screen of Facebook application.

Photo button on profile screen gives upload options for photo and video.
Photo button is perfect mechanism to upload profile picture. But the problem is video option is provided inside photo button. I bet nobody will figure out video option without trying this button. This can be solved by providing separate buttons for profile picture and video.

Figure 2 : Photo button on profile and option available on clicking it

The images on main screen are random images that appear from random news feeds 
The images on main screen which are displayed in strip just above notifications are random images, not the one on which you are tagged in or not from recent feeds. User will be confused, why these pictures are coming on my main screen? Solution to this is, providing pictures of the account holder from his albums. 

Figure 3 : Main screen of Facebook Application

Chat feature’s response time is slow.
The response time of chat feature is slow. When chatting with multiple friends using chat screen, the response time of the chat window delays. This creates confusion between friends. Facebook has also launched a separate messenger application which works pretty fast. Integrating messenger application with native Facebook application can solve this problem.

Photo button on News Feed has video option inside it
The news feed screen again has same Photo button as profile screen. The Photo button has options video and photo. Solution to this is keeping separate buttons for video and photo.

Figure 4 : News Feed Screen with Photo button

Conclusion: - Facebook is constantly working on fixing bugs and usability problems in its android application. But some of the usability problems still exist. Considering Android’s market share and the fact that almost all people have Facebook account, the company should fix these problems as soon as possible and make Android Facebook application good in terms of usability.


  1. Sorry about the quality of images. I tried hard to get a screen shot but its not a built-in feature for many android phones and i would have to root my phone to do the same. I will try to get better images.

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