Last night many iPhones were able to update to the new Facebook 3.1 version of the free iPhone software. AllFacebook.com reports the Facebook iPhone app has a stunning ”23.5 million monthly active users and over 11 million daily active users.”
Among the features added were push notifications and contact syncing. What does that look like and mean? Read on…
Push Push Push
Before you will be able to have anything pushed to your iPhone, your Push Notifications have to be turned on.
You’ll find those in your Settings app here:
You find the Push option hiding in your Settings app, after selecting Facebook.
And here’s what the settings look like:
For right now I don’t need to be bugged all the time, so for the important stuff I’ll let them ping me.
A Syncing Feeling
Back inside the Facebook app itself, click on Friends and you’ll notice a new button that says “Sync” in the upper right:
This takes you to a screen with two options. I feel this is slightly misleading since I haven’t found any evidence that having “Replace Photos” turned on by itself actually does anything – you have to have Syncing on in order for that slider to be meaningful (which is a shame, because I can certainly see wanting my photos to be replaced without any other data transfer between my Facebook and Contacts).
When you slide the button over to the on position for Syncing, the following warning pops up:
That warning is where I have a problem. While I know the concept of “syncing” means I’ll have to share information between at least two points what this warning suggests, without any explanation, is that my Contacts on my iPhone will be sent up to Facebook. It doesn’t just say, “your contacts who you are currently friends with” but broadly just says, “contacts from your device.” That’s a little odd and potentially disconcerting. If they aren’t my friends on Facebook but I have them in my Contacts, does it suggest them as friends? Does it ping or bug them? Does it try and contact people who are friends to tell them their phone number is wrong? The truth is it may do none of those things and might just harmlessly confirm that yes, they are my friends but I don’t know that for sure and with just that simple phrasing in there, I’m not inclined to try it just to have some people tapped on the shoulder by me when I don’t mean them to. Furthermore, I’m not guaranteed Facebook will check with me when there is a conflict in information like Apple’s MobileMe does at whatever threshold you set it at. I do know people who don’t always make sure their contact info is super-up-to-date on Facebook (many don’t bother with their basic profile info after they first write it, in fact).
It’s a great update from a functionality perspective, and casual users will get a lot of use. But on the Sync addition, there’s just a bit more assurance needed, in my opinion, before I go merging my Facebook database with the one I really depend on — not because of privacy or nefarious big brother reasons any more than the simple trust in people to have one or both fully up to speed and the fear the “correct” info won’t be what’s left after the sync.