Facebook dumps HTML5 for native code in new iOS app

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Facebook launched an updated version of its signature app for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS, opting for a fully native app instead of embedded HTML5. The updated version of Facebook touts speeds up to 2x faster than the previous version, as well as faster scrolling and instant access to notifications.

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Facebook's updated app promises to be up to 2x as fast as before.

"Up until now we've looked at scale, but we've become aware that while we have a great mobile website, embedding HTML5 inside an app isn't what people expect," said Facebook iOS Product Manager Mick Johnson in an interview with The Verge.

In addition, Facebook promises faster loading times for pictures, allowing iOS users to close photos with a single swipe. "One way we have achieved this (faster loading times) is by re-balancing where we perform certain tasks. For example, in iOS, the main thread drives the UI and handles touch events, so the more work we do on the main thread, the slower the app feels. Instead, we take care to perform computationally expensive tasks in the background. This means all our networking activity, JSON parsing, NSManagedObject creation, and saving to disk never touches the main thread," wrote Jonathan Dann, a developer who worked on the iOS app, on the Facebook blog.

Facebook initially tested some aspects of the native app through its launches of its other apps including Messenger and Camera. By gauging user's reactions to these smaller apps, Facebook was better positioned for its relaunch of its main app.

"Going forward, we'll utilize code sharing, as well as some assistance from the other teams," said Johnson.

Facebook also rolled out an update for its Android app, simplifying the photo uploading process. In addition, users can now create events compete with location and attendee information via mobile, a feature that is not yet available for iOS users. The Android app, however, is still composed of embedded HTML5.

Earlier this month, Facebook announced it would be launching a new mobile advertising unit to drive app downloads for iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android. 

For more:
- see the Facebook blog
- see this The Verge article and this article

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