You also have the option to make free Wi-Fi calls to anyone on your friends list, provided that person has a working Wi-Fi connection. You can access it by pressing the Send Message button, and if your friend has a newer iOS version of the app along with Wi-Fi, a "Free call" button will light up, letting you call your friend directly. In my testing there was almost no delay in the audio and the sound was crystal-clear. While you won't be using minutes from your carrier, you will be using data. Either way, it's a useful feature, letting you call friends from your contact list without using minutes.
In version 6.0 of the app, Facebook has enhanced messaging with a couple of new interface additions. First, a feature called Chat Heads makes it so you can continue chatting with friends even while checking out other pages on Facebook. Now, when you message someone, a little round icon of your friend's profile picture floats onscreen while you browse Facebook, making it easy to see when that person has responded to your message, and letting you tap to quickly reply. You can have up to four Chat Heads floating simultaneously. It's pretty useful when you're inside the Facebook app and looking at pages or browsing the News Feed, but it also adds clutter where there was none before. It's important to note here that in iOS, Chat Heads only show up while you are in the Facebook app, whereas with Facebook Home or Facebook Messenger on Android, you can have Chat Heads on your phone's home screen that follow you everywhere. If you use Facebook chat a lot, the Android experience is superior, giving you easy access wherever you are. But if you're like me and mostly rely on SMS for text communication, the Chat Heads will add convenience in the Facebook app only, but are not very useful beyond that.
Secondly, a new Stickers feature will let you add larger, more-artistic icons (sort of like emoji) to your chat messages. There are certainly people who will like being able to add large artistic icons to chat sessions, but the part that bothers me is that Facebook says there will also be Sticker packs available for purchase. I would not personally buy Sticker packs because I don't use Facebook chat very often, but I recognize that some people probably will and we'll have to wait and see if the Stickers that the company offers are worth your hard-earned cash. The Stickers feature is not yet available as of this writing, but Facebook says it will be coming in the next few weeks.
Version 6.0 also gives some love to the iPad app. What was mostly an enlarged version of the iPhone app in earlier versions has now been redesigned with more thought toward how iPad users consume content. The main News Feed has more white space, less dividers, and standardized fonts that are more easily readable on the larger screen. The company takes into account the larger viewing area on the iPad, displaying stories in your News Feed with larger images and more text than you'll find in the iPhone version. What results is not a sea-change for iPad users, but simply a cleaner, more efficient use of space to take advantage of the larger iPad screen.
Overall, the Facebook app offers a smooth experience for browsing the social-networking site on the go. With an intuitive interface; a sleeker, more efficient design that takes advantage of the larger screen on the iPad; the power to make free calls over Wi-Fi; and new chat tools to keep you connected while browsing, this is the best version of the app yet. If you have an iOS device and use Facebook, this update is a must-download.
- Similar model: $