06
Aug
Klyph-Thumb

Not everyone is a big fan of the official Facebook app. Most people probably just tolerate it as a better alternative than accessing the mobile site from a web browser, and judging by the persistently average rating on Google Play, a sizable number of people actively hate it. That's why there's always a steady stream of third-party Facebook clients to choose from, such as the promising Klyph for Facebook. This particular option takes the popular social network and douses it in the same coat of paint as Google+'s Android app.

First Impressions

Klyph4 Klyph8 Klyph7

Klyph is not a lazy undertaking. It looks nearly as good as native Google apps, as it gets most of the extra touches right. The cards slide up when scrolling just like you would expect, and leaving comments or status updates are preceded by smooth fade-in animations. Swiping from the left reveals different areas of Facebook, and swiping from the right shows notifications. Chat isn't supported yet, but Klyph can still view profiles, photo albums, and pages. It also comes with multiple themes to choose from.

Klyph11 Klyph5

Aside from Klyph's appearance, there wasn't much of anything here that blew me away. On the other hand, I found quite a few quirks that left a sour taste in my mouth.

Shortcomings

Klyph obviously needs permission to access your Facebook account, but it goes about asking in some of the more obtrusive and intimidating ways I've seen yet. I'm pretty sure I may have signed contracts that were shorter than these prompts. And forget about confusing users - the third prompt below seems to have confused itself.

Klyph1 Klyph2 Klyph3

One problem that plagues all third-party Facebook applications is the degree to which profiles with high privacy settings prevent them from accessing information. I could see my sex when looking at my profile using Klyph, but no other personal information. At least wall posts were still visible.

Klyph10

When I was scrolling through my newsfeed earlier, I was hit with the strong feeling of déjà vu. It turns out that Klyph was dishing me the same set of posts two or three times. No, my friends weren't sharing each other's posts around - these were the same posts being shown to me repeatedly. Note the position of the scrollbar in the screenshots below.

Klyph12 Klyph13

The bell icon in the toolbar also provides access to notifications, but it never changed to alert me to the presence of new ones. I found this out when I doubled back to the official Facebook app to make comparisons. Both apps listed the same notification, but only the official app changed its icon. Nor did a push notification pop up even though the option is enabled in the app's settings. Something I found more annoying, though, was the number of extra steps Klyph required to do certain things. The Facebook app lets me see who has liked a post from the newsfeed, but Klyph requires that I click on the post first to see this information. There other unsupported features listed on the app's Google Play page that I did not mention above.

Also, due to Facebook limitations on third-party apps, the following features are not allowed:
• Like a page
• Tagging in statuses/comments with “@” like the official Facebook app
• Share a status/photo/video on a friend’s timeline.

Is Klyph For You?

Klyph is still in early development, so I would currently only recommend it to early adopters and people for whom the official Facebook app simply doesn't work. I'm not one of those people. I currently have no qualms with the official Facebook beta, and both apps are equally snappy on my HTC One. I'm not much of a Facebook user, though, so my demands are really light.

There is a paid version of Klyph available for $2.61, which removes the ads that are ever-present at the bottom of the free version of the app. This is still a solid foundation despite its shortcomings, so I wouldn't call investing in the app now a rip-off. That said, you might want to wait for it to mature some more before making the commitment. There are simply more complete alternatives out there. Klyph looks polished - it just doesn't feel quite as smooth. Not yet.

Thanks, Chad.

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • mechapathy

    LOL that third dialogue.

    • CoreRooted

      Wait... what were we talking about again? ;)

  • Maff Mace

    So with it looking so good as you say, then it's been written so that it looks just as good on tablets?
    No mention of phone only or tablet UI in your write up so until I get home to try it I'll never know.

    • http://bertelking.com/ Bertel King, Jr.

      The tablet UI is the same as the smartphone version. I'd suggest skipping it if your tablet is larger than 7 inches.

      All of the screenshots currently on the Google Play page were taken using a tablet, if you want to see for yourself.

      • Maff Mace

        Still stuck without a decent Facebook tablet app then :(

  • Gregory O’Neill

    I just installed the app, and had no issue viewing my own timeline. All my posts showed, none of them looped around.

  • Jesco Walker

    Been using this app for very long :)

    • mesmorino

      So do you love it long time?

      • Jesco Walker

        totally ! its like the awesome facebook app , @mesmorino:disqus

  • Mastermind26

    I've found the flipboard layout works well for simply viewing FB and liking stuff. Sharing is sometimes sketchy and it's not a smooth scroll like G+, but it seems to work and fairly well.

  • http://cashd00d.co.cc/ WHAT?

    "When I was scrolling through my newsfeed earlier, I was hit with the strong feeling of déjà vu. It turns out that Klyph was dishing me the same set of posts two or three times. No, my friends weren't sharing each other's posts around - these were the same posts being shown to me repeatedly. Note the position of the scrollbar in the screenshots below."

    The official Facebook app does the same thing.

    • Niels

      I've noticed that happening on the website as well. (The desktop version)

      What I'm wondering is why they need all those permissions. I've sent an email to them about a month ago to request why they need them - some just don't sit that well with me - but they have yet to reply.

      • akshay7394

        Do you mean the facebook permissions or the android app's permissions itself?

        I ask because, if you meant fb permissions, it just needs those to function as a facebook application; it can't do a thing to simulate the facebook app if it doesn't have permission to access those areas in the app.

        • Niels

          I meant the Android app permissions. Full SMS/MMS and call log access isn't something I'm willing to give them.
          Now, it seems they want to integrate SMS in their chat, thus streamlining your communication with your contacts. I like that idea, but the only caveat is that I don't want them to do that. Such integration would be great (possibly), but I want that on the OS-level.
          It's a pity that there's no way to deny that permission - no app ops and stuck on gingerbread on my phone...
          Edit: also, my phone number is mine and private. :-)

          • akshay7394

            Very true; had the same issues until i switched to custom/rooted roms ahaha. Now I'm all safe :)

            though i still allow Facebook Messenger to have permission to access SMS because i absolutely love Chat Heads/

          • Niels

            You could use ninja sms for the chat heads feature for sms without having facebook accessing your sms? How do you like the sms integration into the app? Is it noticeable, is it fluid, can you choose whether to send an sms or just IM? I'm curious :-)
            Also, which ROM are you running if I may ask? And which method did you use? :-) I'm on Cyanogenmod 7.2 for the HTC Desire (Bravo, gsm).

          • akshay7394

            I found Ninja SMS really ugly, when i tried using it. The SMS integration is really well done, but you can't choose between SMS and IM. For example if you chatted with and texted the same person simultaneously then it shows you two 'chats' with the same name.

            But i still love it for the chat heads feature :P

            I'm running it on CM10.1, sony ericsson live with walkman. :)

          • Niels

            You have a point there... Theming or coloursheming would be a nice addition.

            So you've got app ops as well? It's a pity they won't be adding that (or any) feature to older versions. My phone isn't supported past CM7.2 :( - due to lack of internal storage I presume.

          • akshay7394

            Yeah, officially anyway. Just modify your build.prop! Or get Xposed.

          • Niels

            I could fool a few apps doing that, but don't they require the 4.0+ framework to work? (especially app ops)
            Xposed sounds like a good idea! I'll just have to modify the build.prop so my phone can install it.

          • akshay7394

            Oh, that's true. Xposed for gingerbread isn't a good idea, it's unsupported there.

          • Niels

            Oh. Too bad, that means I'll just have to wait to install Facebook when I get my next phone (I'll be holding out till December and have a look at the new Nexus and the rumours of HTC's next flagship)

          • akshay7394

            No, you CAN still modify your build.prop to get the chat heads on Messenger working. Look for the Facebook Home build.prop modifications, those get chat heads to work too.

          • Niels

            Cool, thank you! I'll give that a try (since you can use Facebook Home 's chat feature without it being your default launcher - right?) :-)

          • akshay7394

            You don't need Facebook Home at all

          • Matt

            Permission manager apps. Look them up - you can disable an app's permissions I believe.

          • Matt
          • Niels

            I know, the only problem is that I've got an HTC Desire with Cyanogenmod 7.2 on it. App ops has been introduced in 4.3 so that's not an option for me. Also, Cyanogenmod's new permission manager (see http://www.androidpolice.com/2011/05/22/cyanogenmod-adds-support-for-revoking-and-faking-app-permissions/) isn't available for for builds before 10.x...
            I could revert to other apps available on the play store, but don't really know which one I should choose and whether or not they'll break the experience of the app just because of the way they're denying the permission... D'you know of a good one by chance? (That supports Gingerbread)

    • http://www.thepixelpuse.com/ Aj Meadows

      Yeah. That's just Facebook being Facebook, really.

  • V

    Looks like they took the G+ app and added facebook to it. Even the circle avatars are there.

    • akshay7394

      "This particular option takes the popular social network and douses it in the same coat of paint as Google+'s Android app."

      Did you bother even BEGINNING to read the article? That line is right in the first paragraph.

      G+ was his design base, has been since he first began building the app- less back then than it is now, sure, but still.

    • Freak4Dell

      Google should buy Facebook, just so we can have a fully working version of this app.

  • solbin

    I should give this a try. I am so tired of the official facebook app never updating. Constantly showing the latest post was over a week ago. I don't use facebook often, but it is nice to have when I get a lull in my day. I have mostly just been using the webpage version since the app is awful.

    • Himmat Singh

      I agree. I just use the web version as well. The app version is slow and way too dumbed down.

  • Adam Truelove

    The facebook app is good enough now then it's pros outweight the cons of using a 3rd party app that only mostly works.

  • EH101

    I stopped using Facebook a while back but this doesn't look any better than Friendcaster that I used to use, assuming Friendcaster hasn't gone downhill since then.

    • Seiga

      Friendcaster isn't using the holo ui. Holo's UI is by far the cleanest, most robust UI I have seen.

      • EH101

        Friendcaster's UI is just as nice and fluid as they come. I understand liking Holo, but it's far from being the end-all be-all of UIs. In fact, I'd venture to say Friendcaster's UI is better suited for a multi-stream app like Facebook than Holo UI. It's nearly the same UI as the twitter app Carbon, which I find to fit the bill perfectly.

        Full Holo isn't nearly as well suited as these 'half-Holo' UIs. In full Holo, like G+, you have to open the side menu to select whatever stream you want to view. The half-Holo Friendcaster UI allows you to simply swipe between 'tabs.' I find this method to be superior, especially combined with the ability to organize the order of the tabs. Furthermore, it is nearly the same method Chrome uses to switch between tabs, so Google knows it is useful and I don't think they would disapprove the Friendcaster UI.

        tl;dr people need to stop liking Holo just because Holo. Other UIs exist that are simply better for certain use cases.

        • Chris

          Android is great because of CHOICE. choice in hardware. Choice in UI. choice in apps. Not all apps are good for holo, nor does every app need to look the same. Plus google does not require all the apps made for android to use holo.

      • Chris

        while you may be right about it being clean, I say who gives a f- if its not using holo. Does Google actually require all the apps to use holo?

  • Jeff718

    Thanks for sharing. Would you do an update once the app has fewer shortcomings?

  • Justin Dugan

    Bertel representing the 'Burgh!

  • garry

    works buttery smooth and looks beautiful on my N7 so far. I hope they fix the remaining issues (as well as facebook will let them), because this really is what facebook mobile on android should look like.

    • Chris

      why wouldn't facebook let them? If an issue comes up its likly the cause of the APIs

  • CJ

    Interesting app. Very curious to see how this app develops in the coming months. Added to my wishlist for now.

  • Cuvis

    I just want a Facebook app that doesn't suck. Is that too much to ask?

    • Michael Ta

      apparently to little Mark Suckerburg, yes.

    • night_train

      "Is that too much to ask?" It depends. An app that doesn't suck for one is an entirely different thing for someone else. As a developer, I often hear "this or that sucks" but that doesn't say what people actually want.

      • Cuvis

        Fine, I'll be more specific. I want an app that supports most (if not all) of Facebook's features, doesn't slowly eat up the entirety of my storage space and memory, doesn't consume 80% of my CPU cycles when it's running in the background, actually loads my news feed when I tap to load my news feed instead of throwing an error half the time, doesn't have weird rendering quirks that make it unusable, and is actually responsive to user input. Neither the official app nor any third-party app I've tried manages to fill all these criteria.

        • Joe Menard

          lol

        • Andrew Munn

          What phone do you have?

          • Cuvis

            Nexus 4.

            And I've been testing Klyph today, and it's really the first app I haven't had issues with. Which is surprising, considering the litany of issues called out in this review.

  • Abhigyan

    You should also check out Atrium. Another polished, almost entirely Holo Facebook client.

  • night_train

    Yeah it looks nice, but I'll keep using the Facebook app. Not sure what people don't like about it. Or rather, what are the features people are looking for that it doesn't have? Just wondering...

    • Chris

      The only issue I have with the offical app is the news feed not loading or not remebering that I have it sent to "most recent" or going back 6-12 hours when I first opened the app.

  • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

    The requests for Facebook permissions appear to be coming from Facebook rather than the app itself - presumably the app utilises the Facebook SDK

  • Chris

    I don't get why everyone is in love with holo. google does not require each app to use holo otherwise every app will have it and android will be like iOS where each app has to look the same (bottom command bar, top top title bar etc) I like how apps can either use holo or have their own design.

    Get over it.

    I use the official facebook app and friendcaster. The official one is slowly getting better over the years and friend caster is just nice over all.

    • omegavesko

      People like Holo because it looks nice. Nobody is saying all apps should use it. You also don't seem to understand what the Android design guidelines are, because it's very possible to have incredibly diverse and interesting apps while still adhering to the design guidelines.

      You're the one who's overreacting here. Dare I say, you should get over it.

  • Kenny Muise

    It's ridiculous...it customizes Facebook and is limited. It looks like Google+ (oh joy!)... Nothing to get worked up about at all.