I’ve written quite extensively about Facebook – in particular Facebook apps – here on Mobot, most recently in A trifecta of terribleness, a rambling feature covering the various irksome features of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and of course plain old Facebook.
Somewhat surprisingly, there’s now a third prong to the Facebook app assault (WhatsApp being entirely independent), with the introduction of Facebook Groups. What the…?
Like Facebook Messenger before it, Facebook Groups essentially takes some of the existing functionality from the Facebook app, and gives it its own space in which to breathe.
Unlike Facebook Messenger, you don’t have to use Facebook Groups on your mobile; the functionality still exists within the main app, though the same could formerly be said of Messenger, so it’s probably only a matter of time.
Anyway! Logical question: What are Facebook Groups? In a nutshell, they’re a bit like the groups one might create within Messenger (Poker Guys, Football Dudes, Uni Group...), but instead of content being housed in a simple Messenger thread, you get your own private wall – with a little additional functionality.
I have a Facebook Group for my band, for example, allowing us to post and share content (pictures from gigs, video footage, etc) in our own little space, independent from our Facebook Page (upper case ‘P’), the latter being for public consumption.
Interestingly, the reaction to Facebook Groups hasn’t been entirely negative, with many users praising the simple, clean design, and even suggesting that the main Facebook app could do with a similar makeover.
It’s also nice being able to see – at a glance – which members are online; it’s significantly less claustrophobic than the Facebook Messenger app; and you can have unique notification preferences for each of the three apps. Personally, I’m happy to have full-on notification action for my band; I don’t care about Facebook and Facebook Messenger quite as much, so a simple badge will do for those.
Oh! And in a neat feature I’ve just this minute discovered, you can add individual Groups to your homescreen. Nice.
On the poop side, some of the aforementioned “additional functionality” is absent from Facebook Groups, meaning it really is little more than a sexier alternative to Facebook Messenger.
Specifically, there’s no option to add photos to albums - or create new albums; there’s no Events tab; you can’t search; and you can’t upload files (the desktop version lets you throw in files up to 25MB in size).
On the whole, as it stands, Facebook Groups is arguably kinda pointless. But it looks good, and to be honest, we’re vain like that, so it’s not a complete disaster in our eyes. Never thought I’d say that about a Facebook app. Safe flight, piggies.
- Looks delicious
- Set individual notification preferences for each Facebook app
- See who’s online at a glance
- You don’t have to use it (for now)
- No Photo Albums, no Search
- No Events, no Files
- It’ just a sexy Facebook Messenger for now
Summary: Facebook Groups is - I have to admit - surprisingly decent for a Facebook app. Yeah, a lot of the functionality from the desktop version is missing, but it was never in the Facebook app to begin with. Match the desktop version with Photo Albums, Search, Events and Files, and it’ll be two thumbs up from us.
Price: free @ App Store
Compatibility: Requires iOS 7.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus.