With all of the hubbub about how poorly Facebook's app for Android functions, I went on a hunt. A lot of people (both in comments here and on the Market) talked about using FriendCaster as a superior alternative, so I started my search there.

As you can no doubt see, the interface is strikingly similar to the traditional Facebook app. That's not a bad thing, as it keeps everything nice and familiar, which is what I was hoping for. The news feed is just about what you'd expect, and getting from screen to screen to comment or like is as simple as a tap or a long-press.

There's also the requisite "Places" option, (named Checkin here), that allows you to find places via GPS or coarse location, and also tag friends.

One of the features I was most impressed with was the picture viewing. While viewing pictures, the picture will take up your entire screen, by default, and there's a nice, slide-to-move dynamic that is very Android, and very cool. You can keep track of where you are in an album by looking at the string of dots at the top of the screen. The solid dot is where you're at, the empty dots are all of the other pictures.

There's also a strong settings menu, filled with all sorts of notifications options. I learned (by accident) that when someone "Likes" one of your posts, FriendCaster gives you a popup on your homescreen, instead of an icon in the notification bar. It's real-time (something not readily available on the Android version), so that's always a plus.

There's also a setting for tablet-sized screens that comes built into the app, so you don't need to worry about getting yet another app (or waiting for Facebook to come around and do it themselves).

Where FriendCaster falters, I think, is the price. There's a free version in the Market that's ad-supported as well as a Pro version for $4.99. The Pro version is definitely good, but unless you absolutely abhor the stock Facebook app, pushing five dollars seems a little steep to feed your Facebook addiction.

At any rate, more pictures and download links are after the break.

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Reader comments

Android App Review: FriendCaster


I used to really like this app as it was the only way to get Facebook notifications. Now that google has changed the Gmail API and prevents FriendCaster's method of retrieving notifications, this really isn't that much of an improvement over the Official App. There are some minor things, I will admit, but overall it's fairly the same. Oh and now that I used the blackberry glitch to get real time notifications using the official app, there is no point in using this one anymore tbh.

I use the "Periodic Polling" option & even with the checking frequency all the way down to "Every minute", I don't notice it draining the battery.

I haven't had a chance to try the Blackberry fix for notifications yet though, it worked for you?

1. If you had a blackberry before, go into your FB account and delete the BB permissions. If you didn't then just skip this step.

2. Ensure you are logged in to the Android FB application. Select all you notifications under setup.

3. Find someone with a blackberry. Login to the Blackberry FB app and approve permissions to be setup in your FB account.

4. Logout of the blackberry app and give it back to you friend lol.

5. Now you should get real time FB notifications on your Android phone. Don't ask why, just be happy you get them.

This worked perfectly for me. Some say it doesn't but it sure does for me.

I paid up for the Pro version, it's worth it. The best part is the ability to select favorite pages and people, instead of having to scroll through a mile-long list of "liked" pages and friends to access the one you want. The official app offers NO WAY to do's easier using the mobile web version, where at least you could bookmark them individually.

I do wish they'd incorporate C2DM, but they've said they're looking into it since the thing with the GMail API.

Just a word of caution, if your friends are scared about security and have blocked 3rd party apps from seeing their profiles then you will not see their status updates with this app. Otherwise this is a very good app

That might explain the one guy who's posts I never see. Of course, he's paranoid because he annoys and stalks other people. :)

So THAT explains why I never see updates for a few friends I have on this vs. the website. Thanks for clearing up that question.

This app did not offer me anything I wanted far beyond what the official app offers. The widget was also a bit of a letdown for me. Widget wise, I haven't found one I like better than GoLauncherEx's fb widget.

I definitely recommend everyone to try the blackberry fix for notifications. I get them immediately. In fact, my phone will notify be faster than the website when i'm on my computer. My only ongoing complaint with the official app is the chat.

I used this app religiously before the push portion was "broken" by Gmail's API changes. I didn't pay $4.99 for it thankfully (I think it was more like $1.99 or $2.99 when I got it) since they haven't gotten push working. That aside it isn't a bad application at all. I wish that the official Facebook app would take notice and step their game up while also integrating the newly released Facebook Messenger.

It doesn't just need to be a blackberry it can be an iPhone or itouch or iPad as well anything with a facebook App just sign in with that device and you are good to go!

I absolutely love FriendCaster and of course I bought the paid version just to support the dev.

Although I would like to see true push notifications, but periodic polling is ok.

I bought this app and loved it until the gmail notifications were broken. With the new update notifications are back and friendcaster is once again my Facebook app of choice.

I love the app, bought the paid version. Same goes with their twitter app, its great too.

Much more features than the normal Facebook and Twitter app.

I love it because unlike the official Facebook app it actually works. My only beef (and I'm nitpicking here) is that you cannot send or reply to private messages from within the app (it redirects you to FB mobile), but that's not the devs fault, Facebook doesn't allow it.

I like FriendCaster because, for the most part, push notifications actually work (with the K9 option). I also like that it lets you interact with pages that you have liked or manage. There is also FriendCaster Chat, but it's a separate, free download.

wow I didnt even realize there was a paid app. I use ad free and havent seen one yet. With the new permissions for FB, I had to uninstall and reinstall, but it has worked like a charm

Like others, I used this app primarly because of its very handy push notifications. But then, 3 things happened almost immediately:
1/ The push notifications stopped working because of new Gmail API
2/ The contact sync was eating up all the memory and I could not do anything to prevent that.
3/ The workaround to get push notifications with the official app came up.

I know that the first two points have been corrected in newer versions, but the 3rd one was enough for me to come back to the official app. Unlike many other people, with the push notifications, I think that for an occasional use (viewing my whole news feed, unlike FriendCaster or any other third-party client, because of Facebook API restrictions; commenting/liking post; RSVP to events; being notified of comments/events), it is a pretty decent app.

I like it that it can easily copy your status update into the clipboard, good for instances where you wish to re-post a revision of an original post you didn't like. It also lets you un-post if you posted within the app.

The main reason I use it vs the "official" app: last time I tried, the official app cut me off with a "text field full" (or whatever) message way short of what Facebook actually lets you post, whereas the Friendcaster app let me keep typing much longer & managed to post the entire thing.

I definitely prefer this to the original app, in fact I only have the original app installed so I can have the friends in my contacts. I have the official app's notifications turned off & let Friendcaster handle it.

I find I have to use a combination of Friendcast, the Facebook app and the mobile web.

I use Friendcast as it will basically do most of what I normally need. I don't get the push notifications, but I do consistently get the notifications set at 15minutes. I have noticed as of late that I don't get every notification (whereas it seemed like I did in the past). What I love about Friendcast is that you can delete comments and you can share directly from the app (something you cannot do on the official app).

As a member of several groups, the pages will update to the most recently posted update (whereas the official app only shows the original order, not most recent posting) which makes the experience much like the desktop version. Also, when it comes to Pages, you can see both the member's posts along with the admin posts (something you can't do on the official app).

Now I must say, so far as the Newsfeed, with the official apps' new UI, the Newsfeed is better on the official app than the Friendcast app. Also the inbox feeds are better on the official app (even better on the FB Messenger).

Anyone know how to customize the widget? It's nice that there is one, but the form factor is pretty bad...

This is regarding FriendCaster application. There are 2 points. 1. This application does not pick all the feeds from facebook. I am able to see some post in facebook which does not appear in FriendCaster. 2. After the recent upgradation i am not able to see "Friends" as an friends list and only groups is seen. I am not able to go to particular friends page.