Facebook updates Android app with more privacy controls

The app lets users add privacy controls on posts, matching features available on Facebook’s website.

If you liked the recent changes Facebook made to improve privacy, then you'll want to upgrade immediately to the latest version of the social network's app for Android smartphones.

The app boasts an improved sharing tool that lets users add privacy controls on posts, matching features available on Facebook’s website. Matching the controls gives users the opportunity to create a consistent experience when moving between the mobile and online versions of Facebook.

Also in line with Facebook's online changes, the app permits users to restrict who can see a posting. Not only can that help a person avert embarrassing situations, but it also allows users to tailor their postings so they're viewed by people who will find them relevant.

The new version of the app also lets you tag friends and places in posts, as well as in photos, and sports a redesign of the profile page and of Group Walls.

In addition, photo browsing has been improved. You can now browse through images by swiping them. And the Messages and Notifications features have been made better, too.

The new release of the Facebook Android app came on the heels of substantive changes made to how the social networking giant's members can handle lists of friends. Those changes include the automatic creation of "smart lists" for certain categories of friends -- work, school, family and city. Custom lists can be created, too, such as close friends or acquaintances. The changes look very similar to how Google+, Google's social network, allows its members to handle groups of contacts. Facebook members should start seeing the list changes this week, and the changes should be making it to the mobile app "over the next few weeks," according to Blake Ross, Facebook's director of product.

Although more than 1.5 million users of the Facebook app have given it an average rating of 3.6 stars out of five, the upgrade's initial reviews have been mixed. "TimBob," who gave the app four stars, wrote at the Android Marketplace: "A lot of the issues with the last update have been fixed. Good app."

"Salvador," though was less complementary about the app. He gave it one star and groused: "This app sucks! It worked ok for a couple of days, but now won't let me sign in." "Tommy," too, had disparaging remarks about the software and rated it one star: "New update won't even open. Has been crap for past 2 months of updates."

Some problems with the app can be cleared up with a simple solution, according to "AJ," who gave the program a five-star rating. "For people experiencing problems," he wrote, "just go to your settings> manage applications> Facebook>clear cache ...do this after every update n u r good to go :)."

The app is now available in the Android Marketplace.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

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John P. Mello Jr.

PC World (US online)
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