Facebook has pushed some major updates to its iOS app: In the latest version, the best elements of Facebook Messenger and Camera make an appearance in the native iOS app, and for those of you that are lucky enough to have early access to Facebook Gifts, sending gifts to friends can now be done through the mobile app.
Facebook Camera and Messenger were formerly standalone apps, coexisting with the Facebook app but accessible on their own only. Now, the main iOS app offers a healthy dose of the best of both of these apps.
The update that adds Facebook Camera’s features is comparably minor to the other changes. The photo icon at the very top of your Facebook News Feed, which opens up your device’s camera roll, now enables you to select and share multiple photos to your Facebook page. Previously, Facebook only supported sharing one photo at a time. Sharing an album to Facebook was, to be blunt, a huge inconvenience.
You’ll find the Messenger integration with Facebook’s main iOS app to be convenient for frequent users. It’s now significantly more efficient to instantly message your Facebook friends since online friends are listed on the app. Sliding your News Feed to the left reveals a “Favorites” and “Active Now” list, where you can see all of your Facebook friends that are online at the moment. “Favorites” surfaces the friends that you most interact with, but you can edit the friends that appear on your list. Unfortunately video chatting is a feature supported via desktop only. In 5.0, messages were initiated through the messaging icon, which felt more like we were sending an email than an instant message, and 5.1 makes this much more instant chat-friendly.
The major news in the 5.1 mobile update is addition of the e-commerce platform that the social networking company calls Facebook Gifts. The platform was launched in September and rolled out slowly to the United States user base. With Facebook Gifts, users can send gifts selected from an assortment of third-party product partners to Facebook friends and family on special occasions like holidays and birthdays. And since launching Gifts, you’re not relegated to sending gifts to just your friends and family anymore. Charity partners are accepting charitable Facebook gifts including the American Red Cross, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and Water.org.