Facebook and Meebo introduced new applications for iPhone users this week. I had been awaiting these two apps as, sadly, these are two of my addictions - social networking and chatting.
Facebook's typical page would load in my iPhone's Safari browser decently well. Loading the page and surfing around was pretty fast regardless of being on the EDGE or on a Wi-Fi network. However, on Safari, I soon came to realize that I couldn't change or update my "status" and was forever stuck doing whatever it was I was doing in the morning I updated my status. I mean I know my friends want to what I'm doing at all hours of the day, right? I discovered that you could text your status to "FBOOK" and that would take of the problem. However, with Facebook's new iPhone application located at iphone.facebook.com (only accessible if you're on an iPhone), this issue was resolved. The iPhone-specific application's design is slick and less graphically intensive, which is great if you have to access the site via the spotty EDGE network from AT&T. The user-interface is pretty simple and elegant. Friends and updates are given a wide toolbar look and you can navigate without having to enlarge or shrink the page. The top menus feature the most commonly used content. Only drawback is having to enter your login credentials each time you've exited the application/site, but I suppose that's a good security feature as well as not having to maintain an open network connection to an otherwise idle account.
I had also been awaiting an iPhone-only application for Meebo (the universal chat Web site that merges and allows you to use the most common chat programs - i.e., AIM, Yahoo, MSN and GTalk. While Meebo's regular page would load up in the iPhone's Safari browser, you couldn't actually send a message or do anything useful once you logged in. So, when I found out that Meebo had created a version for iPhones at wwwm.meebo.com I was stoked. I logged in as usual and was happy to see my friend list appeared and it looked as if I was good to go. The user interface is quite similar to Facebook's iPhone version, horizontal displays for contacts, clean, simple and easy to navigate almost inviting you to ping someone.
But, my test fell short and ended prematurely as after I tried to ping a co-worker an error screen stating "network connection interrupted" and "java application detected" brought me back to the login screen. Two more attempts have been unsuccessful thus far. I'll keep you posted as to how it works out.
Overall, with these two applications coming online, I'm eager to see what else is in the works. It would seem that these two applications have common design elements that are likely to be incorporated for future iPhone applications. While it may be too early to predict, I would have to guess that upcoming iPhone non-Apple applications will be hallmarked by clean, non-scalable pages that display content in that, well, iPhone-way, simply and cleanly, but somewhat lacking... Luckily, however, one sacrifice I don't mind as content is culled down to fit the iPhone is that these pages and applications do not feature as many ads as their PC-based ancestors.