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Facebook revamps Android app as it prioritizes mobile

Facebook has introduced a significant revamp of its app for Android to make it quicker and easier to use as it looks to attract more developers.

Photos and albums on the new streamlined app are up to two times faster than the previous app and it is now easier to share photos, edit captions and check out comments. The move reflects the growing importance of mobile to Facebook, which recently acquired location-based services firm Gowalla and is reportedly developing a smartphone.

?It is not a secret that Facebook is going to be prioritizing mobile as a whole going into 2012 ? this is going to be the focus of the company for the whole of next year,? said Jason Armitage, a London-based senior analyst with Yankee Group.

?One of the ways they are looking at this is as a way to bring more partners into its mobile ecosystem, especially app developers,? he said.

?Mobile platforms such as iOS and Android are a way of bringing more app developers on board and to get more developers for Facebook.?

Social discovery
Close to half of Facebook?s 800 million active users access Facebook via mobile, according to the company. With such a large mobile user base, the company is looking for ways to improve the experience while also creating more opportunities for marketers.

Other improvements to the new Android app include the appearance of messages and notifications at the top of the screen so that users can respond to friends and stay updated without leaving the page they are on.

There is also a new left-hand menu for easy access to News Feed, Groups, games and apps.

The focus on mobile apps makes sense for Facebook as app development moves more to the Web space with apps based on HTML5 and other platforms, per Mr. Armitage.

?A lot of developers may not want to make their apps available in traditional outlets but want to make them available where there is no charge,? Mr. Armitage said. ?Facebook is way to these apps known about and for distributing them.?

?Facebook can act as a channel where they get the word out about apps and can download apps without charges going to any app store,? he said.

The focus on applications is just one of the ways Facebook is making mobile a priority.

The social network is also focusing on beefing up its mobile marketing capabilities by extending the use of Facebook credits for different parts of mobile applications and looking at using Likes to drive buzz around different brands:

?The mobile marketing side is going to be really critical for Facebook,? Mr. Armitage said. ?

?Facebook Likes have provided the most powerful tool for marketers to date,? he said. ?Likes are especially good for brand marketing and are combining successfully with mobile devices.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York