Facebook has released the version 17.0 update of its mobile app for iPhone and iPad, and as promised, the major software updates from Mark Zuckerberg and company keep coming every few weeks. The catch: Zuck and the gang no longer feel compelled to tell us what features or fixes the new app brings. As has increasingly been the case, Facebook has left blank the section in their App Store listing where they’re supposed to list the changes for the app, and have instead stuck with the party line encouraging users to auto-install the updates. So just what is Zuckerberg hiding here?
We installed Facebook 17.0 and found just one immediately visible change: the font sizes on notifications pages, which has inexplicably grown smaller with the 16.0 update, have been restored to their original font size. Beyond that, this update appears to have no purpose other than either fixing minor bugs we weren’t aware of to begin with, or in changing out background code for reasons unknown – and the latter is what has made so many Facebook users increasingly wary of installing these updates.
Facebook enraged many of its users by removing messaging functionality from its main mobile app, instead forcing them to download and install the separate Messenger app in order to partially regain that functionality. The move came without an intelligible explanation, and instead only the promise that it would result in a faster and more stable experience in both apps. So far there has been none of that.
Messenger is so far away from being a finished app that some users have declared it unusable and have reverted to using their web browser to read their Facebook messages. And since the split, the primary Facebook mobile app has become less stable while not gaining anything tangible. It’s clear that Facebook is up to far more here than merely splitting its app in two for no reason.
Zuckerberg’s users are pissed, the mobile Facebook experience has gotten worse, and he still won’t explain why he’s secretly subjecting users to all of this. Declining to even list the basic changes in the latest version of the app represents a new level of secrecy which won’t play well with users either. Whatever Zuck’s goal, he might do well to get there soon, before users decide they’ve had enough of being experimented on. Then again, the launch of would-rival social network Ello went nowhere with anyone but geeks and social media insiders, suggesting that even as the mainstream grows to loathe Facebook’s business practices more by the day, they’re not interested in jumping ship any time soon.