In August of last year, we saw Facebook for iPhone get a complete overhaul, with the firm introducing us to version 3.0. Courtesy of software developer Joe Hewitt, the update brought an entirely different UI to the table, a user interface which thought more specifically about the user in general, and the actions and features within Facebook. For the most part the update was well received, with the likes of Mashable calling it an "absolutely essential" upgrade for all users of the service. It certainly wasn't 'complete' though. Far from it. In fact, there were many glaring omissions including the likes of built-in support for Apple's Push Notification Service, contact sync with the iPhone OS address book app and the ability to immediately playback Facebook uploaded videos from the app itself.
Today though, Facebook has debuted version 3.1, the next major release to the software. Thankfully, this version adds full support for Apple's Push Notification Service, meaning you can now setup the app to notify you of various types of status alert. Not to add more the in-app interface, (heck - the app is overflowing with functionality!), the guys at Facebook have decided to oust the settings for notifications to iPhone OS Settings. Simply head over to Settings > Facebook. Configurable notification options include the ability to setup push alerts for Messages, Wall posts, Friend requests, Friend confirmations, Photo tags, Events and of course, Comments.
Other changes include the ability to sync your contacts from Contacts.app. Now, navigating to the 'Friends' section, you'll find a 'Sync' button in the top right. Hit it! The app will give you options to both turn syncing on and off and will ask you if you'd like to replace photos of your existing contacts with those of their profile pictures on Facebook. To clarify, this new sync feature allows you to add both profile pictures and link data (which already resides on Facebook) to contacts that already exist on your iPhone. In order to do this the app will take contact information from your iPhone, and upload it to Facebook - and of course, before it does you get the usual "please allow us to do this by tapping below. Oh! .. and tell your friends you're doing it too - so they don't, you know, get angry!" agreement which you'll need to accept. It's pretty quick too, with my own set 74 contacts taking just just a few minutes to sync.
I asked my followers on Twitter to give me a little insight into what they thought of this update. Here's just a hand pick of what they had to say ..
"Push notifications are perfect. Contact photos are horrible quality, and a waste of time!"
"It's ok. The matching of friend names to contacts was ok, but annoying that it replaced pics for contacts who already had them." - @StuartRidout
"Contact sync worked, but would prefer some sort of confirmation. No sound for notifs (for me at least)." - @DevinStoker
"I think I'm ready for 3.2." - @JoshuaArnao
So far, overall reaction to this update seems mixed - and it's not a surprise. There have been isolated reports of the app syncing the wrong photos to certain contacts, general inconsistencies .. among other quirks, and sadly 3.1 still leaves us waiting for true video support for Facebook uploaded videos. Facebook 3.1 is available on the App Store now, as a free update.
Update: Wow, that was fast! Today, Facebook for iPhone 3.1.1 is available. According to the App Store description the update includes "bug fixes for address book syncing".