Finally getting closer to catching itself up to the iOS version, Facebook for Android was updated today to version 1.04 and the update includes many of Facebook’s newer features as well as some long-awaited bug fixes and UI enhancements.
Places is among the key new features included with this update. Facebook announced Places earlier this year and while Android users were previously able to check into places from Facebook’s mobile site, touch.facebook.com, this new update allows for place searching, viewing, and checking in right within the app.
It works exactly like you’d expect it to, just tap the Places icon on the Facebook homescreen. The app will request your location and show you a list of places near you that you can check in to. The only feature that’s missing is creating your own place — the app will only let you check into existing places.
Groups are also added in this release, although it seems like the implementation is buggy at this point. I was unable to load the groups page after the update, hopefully they will get this fixed soon as the groups feature has been a useful addition to Facebook.
Perhaps most important, this update fixes a longstanding bug that has been often complained about by Facebook for Android users: Notifications that appear in the app now link to their respective places in the app itself, rather than directing you to Facebook Mobile in the Android browser. That means that if you receive a wall post, event invite, or message, you’ll be able to view and respond it it inside the app itself rather than having to move your session to a browser. It works as advertised, and makes the experience much better.
Overall, this new version is a strong improvement, minus a few bugs. If you’re a Facebook user with an Android phone, this update comes highly recommended. Available now on the Market for free.