Facebook Updates Its Mobile App On All Platforms Just Days Ahead Of IPO

By May 15, 2012

This week, Facebook quietly unrolled a new look for its iOS, Android, and mobile web apps which does a better job of bringing the crisp, image-focused look and feel of Faceboook’s Timeline UI to mobile users’ News Feeds. A Facebook staffer wrote on the Facebook Mobile page that, “Now photos are up to 3x larger, and all posts will fill your mobile screen from edge to edge.”

The Facebook Mobile team provided some “before and after” pictures so you can compare the old version to the new one.

News Feed before the update.

Note how in the previous version photos on the News Feed are thumbnailed and arrayed in a somewhat disorderly manner. Now look at the new version.

Note how Facebook now displays single photos on albums. You can really see what they mean by edge-to-edge image display. Let’s take a look at how they display albums.

The way Facebook Mobile’s new update displays albums is highly reminiscent of photo albums on Timeline.

The company’s mobile revamp comes just days before it is expected to IPO. And it’s little wonder why Facebook has focused so much on improving its mobile offerings. According to its original S-1 filing, the company cited perceived weakness of its mobile products as a vulnerability and a potential threat to the long-term prosperity of the company.

Facebook has been on a binge of so-called mobile-focused “acqui-hires” in recent months. These acquisitions aren’t limited to the now infamous $1 billion purchase of Instagram; Glancee, TagTile and other mobile-focused startups have joined Facebook after generous buyout offers.

While this minor update to Facebook’s mobile platform is not earth-shattering news, it’s part of a larger narrative: that of Facebook’s position in Silicon Valley’s war over the mobile web. If the ubiquity of camera-equipped mobile phones has made photos — the sharing, editing and display thereof – a central battleground in this war, today’s seemingly insignificant upgrade may mean battle lines may shift another inch or two in Facebook’s favor.