Facebook (Windows Phone 8) review: A pretty face that's missing some features

Facebook profile pages in the app are a bit lackluster compared with other versions of the app; cover photos are much smaller, and there's not much personal information displayed at a glance. You also can't change any details on your personal profile page from the app, meaning you'll have to sit in front of a computer to update your profile.

From any profile page, you can add that person as a friend if you're not already connected, post statuses or photos to that person's timeline, send a message, or poke. You can also unfriend the person, like you can on the other Facebook apps.

Photos
I enjoy how the Facebook for Windows Phone app handles photos. In the News Feed and timeline, posts with four or more photos will show a collage of one large photo at top with three smaller thumbnails below. On iOS and Android, you only see a preview of one photo at a time and have to scroll left or right to see the next one. I like the former, because it shows more pictures at once.

Photo albums also look much prettier on the Windows Phone app. Instead of the text list of albums found on Android and iOS, this app shows a grid of photos with the album's title overlaid on each picture. Tap an album and you see a grid of photos with the album title at top. It's a very photo-focused design that's easy on the eyes.

Photo albums show pictures in an easy-to-view grid. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Viewing a photo in full-screen mode is the same as in other Facebook apps, and you can comment on, like, and tag photos. Like the iOS and Android versions, the app doesn't handle tagging very well and tends to overlap tags when they are close together.

However, your Facebook pictures do show up in the stock Windows Phone Photos app, and you can see a list of people tagged in each photo from there. You can also save Facebook photos to your phone's memory from the Photo app.

Other Facebook features
Most other features you expect from a Facebook app, including check-ins, events, groups, and friend lists, are present in the Windows Phone app and work as expected. You can easily find friends or fan pages with the search bar, and it's easy to like pages from the app.

Unlike the iOS and Android versions, you can't change your account or privacy settings from the app. You'll see an option for privacy settings in the app menu, but it just opens Facebook's settings page in your phone's browser.

Windows Phone-only features
When you first launch the app, Facebook gives you the option to let it manage your lock screen. If you enable the feature, the app will change your lock screen background throughout the day with pictures from your Facebook albums. There are two styles: a full-screen photo or a collage of pictures. I prefer the full-screen option, which looks clean and simple. Since modifications like this can sometimes wreak havoc on phones, by slowing them down or draining the battery too quickly, I was pleased to find that it didn't give me any problems.

Since it's a Windows Phone app, Facebook comes with a live tile that can be pinned to your phone's Start screen. If you expand the tile to the largest size, it will show your cover photo, flip approximately every 30 seconds to show your latest status, and display the number of unread notifications you have.

Conclusion
In the end, Facebook for Windows Phone is a much better experience than using Facebook's mobile site, especially because there are no ads. It can be laggy at times, but the design and smooth experience make it well worth downloading.

If you're looking for a way to browse your News Feed on-the-go and keep up with your notifications, Facebook for Windows Phone is right for you. Candy Crush Saga addicts and Facebook power users who need every single Facebook feature on their phones will want to wait until Microsoft can add more features. That said, Microsoft is still developing a beta version of its Facebook app and releasing updates as quickly as it can. Anyone can download the beta app here, just bear in mind that it could have bugs and broken features.

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    Where to Buy

    Facebook (Windows Phone 8)

    Part Number: 82a23635-5bd9-df11-a844-00237de2db9e

    Free

    Quick Specifications See All

    • Category Social networking
    • Compatibility Windows Phone