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Facebook updates mobile apps

For the 600 million or so people who use their smartphones to stay on top of Facebook friends, the social media company has unveiled a barrage of new features that bring the mobile apps in line with the desktop browser version of Facebook.

Facebook created new versions of its official apps for Android and Apple phones and revamped its mobile-optimized website, m.facebook.com, which works for most other smartphones.

Some new features are easy to spot. Friends' posts now include a Share option so you can re-post their updates, pictures and links to your own timeline. But other features take some poking around to figure out.

The most significant change is that the News Feed, the real-time stream of updates from your Facebook friends, now provides the same sorting options as the desktop version: Top Stories and Most Recent.

Your photos now have a Make Profile Picture option, so you don't need to go back to a full-size computer to turn a photo taken on your phone into your identifying image.

Facebook has also built its chat function into the mobile apps. Rather than the email-like Message utility, Chat is designed for conversations in which both parties tap back and forth at the same time. To start a chat session, tap the human-silhouette icon in the upper right corner of the app. There's a Favorites list you can edit to list only the friends you message most, so you don't have to pore through your entire list of available friends to find them every time.

Do you upload lots of photos to Facebook from your smartphone? You have two new options. First, you can now select more than one photo by tapping, to upload them together. You can also configure the app to automatically upload every image you shoot to a private album from which you can later share them with a couple of taps. To turn on this feature, called Photo Sync, go to your timeline and tap your Photos icon.

There are several new features for mobile status updates, too. You can tag friends in a post, just as on the desktop version of Facebook. Begin typing a friend's name as it appears on a Facebook account, and the app will produce a list of friends' names that match what you're writing. Select the name, and Facebook will insert a blue link to the friend's own page and also alert the subject.

Status updates from the mobile apps can also be limited as to who sees them — another longtime option on the desktop version of Facebook.

Facebook has also added its Facebook Gifts feature to its mobile versions. Facebook Gifts allows you to buy a present for another Facebook user and pay for it with a credit card. Most of the available gifts are of the cookies-and-candles variety, and a majority are under $20.

One last, and more lighthearted, new feature: In private messages from your phone, you can now add emoticons — those smiley faces, hearts and other images that some love and some loathe.

Facebook updates mobile apps 01/13/13 [Last modified: Sunday, January 13, 2013 6:07pm]
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