Facebook orders staffers to ditch iPhones to improve Android app experience

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Facebook is ordering employees to leave their iPhones at home and instead carry smartphones running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, a strategy the social networking giant believes will help improve the quality of its much-maligned Android application. 

Late last week, Business Insider reported Facebook management has embraced the concept of "dogfooding" (derived from "eating your own dog food," a phrase synonymous with tech companies that use their own products to fully demonstrate their quality and functionality), maintaining that employees will only fully comprehend the failings of the existing Android app if they are forced to grapple with the Android user experience on a daily basis.

Facebook confirmed the tactic in an email to The Los Angeles Times, stating that its internal testing processes have long involved employees trialing unreleased products and features prior to launch. "In order to test our mobile products employees need access to specific devices to test on different platforms (iOS, Android)," a Facebook spokesperson said. "This is obviously different from testing on the Web (where it doesn't matter what kind computer you have)." The spokesperson added that management will occasionally "remind employees that they can change from iPhone to Android or Android to iPhone."

Facebook rolled out an updated version of its Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS social networking application on Thursday, opting for a fully native app instead of embedded HTML5. Facebook for iOS 5.0 touts speeds up to two times faster than the previous edition, as well as speedier scrolling and instant access to notifications. Facebook also issued a small update for its Android app--CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted the overhaul was not on par with the iOS improvements, adding "But still a step forward." Facebook declined to specify when a speedier, more efficient Android app might appear.

After Facebook reported net losses of $157 million in the quarter ending June 30, its first as a public company, executives vowed to right the ship with the introduction of new and improved mobile social networking experiences. "Facebook is the most used app on basically every mobile platform," Zuckerberg said on Facebook's earnings call. "So when we think about what we want to do right now, we want to increase the depth of experience in addition to just growing users. We want to not just have applications that people use, but also be deeply integrated into these systems as much as possible, and develop an ecosystem where other apps can be built on top of Facebook."

Facebook now boasts 955 million monthly active users worldwide, with mobile monthly active users eclipsing 543 million. Close to 60 percent of Facebook's total userbase accesses the platform via mobile device.

For more:
- read this Los Angeles Times article
- read this Business Insider article

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