Facebook is a lot like crystal meth — it’s highly addictive and will probably cause your teeth to fall out.* Android users are always one tap away from a snarky status update or a friend’s vacation pics.
Facebook’s Android app has come a long way from its humble beginnings. The most recent iterations are packed with features, from personal settings to page management to power sharing.
Here are a few tricks we use to keep up with Facebook pals on the go.
*Not clinically proven.
1. Sort your News Feed by “Most Recent”
If you don’t trust an algorithm to sort your updates for you, use this feature to arrange things chronologically. The setting is not apparent — likely by design. Find it by tapping the three bars on the top-left to bring up the menu. Then tap the gear to the right of “News Feed.” This will let you toggle between “Top Stories” and “Most Recent.”
The feature occasionally resets itself to “Top Stories,” so if your feed gets messy again, check here for a reset.
2. Quick Post Widget
Facebook’s Android app has a home screen widget that lets you quickly share a status update, photo or location check-in without launching the full feed. Add it by long-pressing an empty space on your background.
3. Edit Favorites
The left-hand menu probably highlights a few options you have no use for (“Discover Places?” No thanks.). Optimize this real estate by starring your favorite features, feeds, groups, pages and apps. Ditch the ones you don’t need.
Organize the starred items by dragging the right-side handles up and down.
4. See the last time your friends logged in on mobile.
Admittedly, this feature is rather creepy, and it’s available on both Android and iOS versions of Facebook’s app. Log in to chat by tapping the icon in the top-right corner. Your list of friends will appear, along with the minutes since they last accessed Facebook mobile — whether they’re logged into chat or not.
That’s right; your stalkers will know — to the minute — the last time you checked Facebook on your phone.
Facebook hides the option to log out of chat after you’ve activated it (sigh), so you’ll have to go into the app’s settings and turn it off if you don’t want people messaging you.
Notification settings are surprisingly granular in Facebook’s app. In the left-hand menu, go to Account > App Settings and find Notification Settings. From there, you can uncheck less important activity. Uncheck Notifications completely if you do not want to receive push messages from Facebook. Turning off notifications will improve your phone’s battery life.
Tap the share function on a photo, video or link and select Facebook from the pop-up menu. You’ll be taken directly into the app, where you can write your epic caption.
You can do the same within other apps. Here, I’m sharing a link from a Reddit app to Facebook mobile via the context menu.
7. Access app settings from (almost) anywhere.
You don’t have to sidle over to the left-hand menu every time you want to change a setting in Facebook’s Android app. The bar with three vertical dots at the bottom of most screens is an easy access point for the settings menu.
8. Promote your page’s posts directly from mobile.
If you’re managing a brand page from your phone, you might notice the option to “Boost This Post” below the content you’re sharing. Tapping this link lets you pay for increased visibility. A menu will show you a few pro-rated prices and the estimated reach you can buy. Pop in your credit card and promote away, without leaving the comfort of your phone.
Like all software, Android apps can accrue junk in their data caches. If left unchecked, Facebook’s cache can bog it down.
Go to your phone’s Settings > Apps > Facebook and clear it out every few days. This should make the app feel “lighter” when running. Don’t confuse “Clear Cache” with “Clear Data.” The latter will erase your username, password and settings from the app. If you accidentally tap it, you’ll have to re-enter them.
If you use many apps simultaneously and switch between them, it’s never a bad idea to kill them outright for better performance. If you find Facebook (or your phone, in general) is getting sluggish, select the often-used apps from that menu and “Force Stop” them. They will boot fresh for you next time.
Ultimately, if Facebook’s official offering is too slow for your taste (and let’s face it, it is), there’s a free Android app called Fast for Facebook, which does exactly what you think.
It will connect to your Facebook account (no login/password required) and provide a stripped down (if ugly) version of your feed that’s lightning fast. An app by the same developer called Fast Home Widgets for Facebook lets you drop the feed right on your home screen.
The apps are sorely lacking in the UI department. For example, if someone writes on a friend’s Timeline, it appears in your feed as a regular status update, confusing the context. Images and link thumbnails get pretty funky as well. But if you’re looking for the most efficient, lightweight way to access Facebook from Android, these apps are a good bet.
Images by Mashable; Mashable composite, logo courtesy of Facebook.