Your first look at Facebook 1.5 for BlackBerry

For a while now there has been talk of Facebook 1.5 for BlackBerry. Back in November we cited a report which indicated a January release, something that obviously did not come to fruition. However, we can say with absolute certainty that Facebook 1.5 is just around the corner because we manged to get our hands on it courtesy of one of our RIM ninjas. A lot of the new features are ones we’ve already gone over, but some are more recent additions and actually pretty interesting, though not necessarily for a good reason.

Now we know your time is important and the only BlackBerry content you’re really interested in is our amazing giveaway that is offering up a Bold, a Storm, a Curve 8900 and 500 BlackBerry unlock codes, but if you’ll take but a few moments out of your day you might just learn a thing or two. We promise it’s short and sweet.

Three Somewhat Major Enhancements

When starting up Facebook for the first time a Setup Wizard pops up on the screen and lists options to control the three biggest changes to Facebook for BlackBerry — the integration with the BlackBerry Message, Calendar and Contacts applications.

BlackBerry Message Application Integration:

Truth be told, this is probably the single greatest feature of the Facebook 1.5 app. In previous builds, when a Facebook message/poke/whatever was received one was forced to navigate their way to the Facebook application itself, open it up and check what you’ve received. But with 1.5 you can bypass all of this by enabling the BlackBerry Message application option and view every Facebook message from the convenience of your inbox.

BlackBerry Calendar Application Integration:

The title of this feature pretty much sums it all up: all of the Facebook events you’ve RSVP’d to and all of your friends birthdays are downloaded to a calendar labeled “Facebook”. Again, this is completely optional but we’re not too sure why someone would avoid taking advantage of this feature. In fact, we’re confident that this feature will save at least a few relationships a year (yes ladies, he has no more excuses).

BlackBerry Contacts Application Integration:

This feature, which we’re torn about internally, allows users to integrate Facebook friends with existing BlackBerry contacts. Phone numbers, work details, and most profile pictures from Facebook are added to the BlackBerry Contacts application. The great thing about this is if you would like to apply this feature to only a select few you are able to do so by “linking” or “unlinking” whomever you wish. And if your Facebook friend does not have their phone number listed and it’s not already in your Contacts then the app allows you to request that they share it with you.

Everything Else is Hum-Drum

Design and GUI:

We’re very disappointed with the design effort that went into Facebook 1.5. In fact, there clearly wasn’t any. Save for a few animated transitions between a limited amount of screens, the application still looks exactly like it did on an 8100 Pearl when it came out in October 2007.

Call Friends from the Friends Screen:

Now it’s possible to call friends who have their numbers listed on Facebook or whose Facebook profile is linked with their Contact profile on your ‘Berry. This is perfect for those who have friends who tend to tweet slanderous things and need to be straightened out.

Comment on Status Messages:

One of the more popular Facebook features is the ability to comment on friends status messages. This functionality was not available in previous versions of Facebook for BlackBerry, but that is simply because the feature is newer than the application updates. We’re very pleased to see this has been packaged in with 1.5.

Change your Listed Phone Numbers:

At this point in time it’s not possible for users to edit their Facebook profiles from a mobile device. However, Facebook 1.5 introduces an option to edit your mobile and landline numbers so that your friends can keep tabs on your ever changing numbers (if only Google cared about GrandCentral). Umm, is it really expected that someone is going to change his or her phone number so frequently that this is necessary? If you can wait a few hours to get to a computer to change update your favorite movies after seeing the latest flick then surely you can wait until that time to change your listed phone numbers. Besides, your friends can just message you and ask you to call them.

Improved access to Facebook’s WAP site:

One of the most irritating things about previous builds has been the fact that whenever you wanted to view a friend’s profile on the WAP site by way of the application, you would have to enter your sign-in credentials for the WAP portal. Thankfully this isn’t the case any more because so long as you launch the WAP site via the application you will not have to enter credentials ever again.

Conclusion

The new intergration with the BlackBerry Message, Calendar and Contacts applications is quite enjoyable, but we’re really disappointed that nothing more substantial will be included. With that said, Facebook 2.0 is in the works but if it took us this long to get to where Facebok 1.5 is today then we have to confess we don’t have much hope for anything but the same old, same old. Then again, by the time Facebook 2.0 is expected to be released the less powerful units on the market like the Pearl will be pretty much be antiques, meaning that RIM and Facebook can safely roll-out a more enhanced application platform-wide.

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