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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.