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Users of Facebook iPhone app irate over buggy update

The latest update to Facebook's iPhone app has been crashing, freezing, and delivering errors to a portion of its users, triggering some backlash and news that Facebook is prepping a fix.

Many Facebook users who rely on the site's iPhone app are in an uproar over problems with the latest update to the application.

Released June 29, the 3.4.3 update to Facebook's iPhone app was supposed to fix various bugs. But it seems to have done the opposite.

Since its debut, the latest version has picked up almost 19,000 one-star reviews in Apple's App Store, with users complaining of crashes, freezes, slowness, a chat mode that doesn't work, and a host of other issues.

In response to the glitches, Facebook had promised to release another update yesterday, according to the Financial Times and other sources. However, as of early Friday, the version was still stuck at 3.4.3.

Launched in 2008, Facebook's iPhone app has proved popular and in the past garnered generally favorable reviews. But the new version is causing bad blood among the faithful.

Some analysts say Facebook has been ignoring its iPhone app as it's been busy prepping a new mobile Web-based interface designed to run outside of the Apple Store, the Financial Times said. Dubbed "Project Spartan," the new platform would be based on HTML5 and let devices like the iPhone and iPad access Facebook directly via mobile Safari.

But another problem might stem from the lack of the right internal resources.

Joe Hewitt, the developer of the iPhone app, switched over to Facebook's Android app in late 2009, reportedly over issues with Apple's app policies, says tech site The Next Web. Hewitt left Facebook entirely this past May.

Now Facebook has just one engineer working on its iPhone app full-time, the company told the Financial Times.

Responding to an e-mail from CNET, a Facebook representative acknowledged that the company has seen some bugs in version 3.4.3 of the iPhone app that lead to some performance issues. To address those issues, Facebook is pushing out a new version of the app (3.4.4), which should be available in the App Store soon, the rep added.

The problems with Facebook's iPhone app come just when Google's new Google+ service is generating buzz and pulling in members. The new social network just hit 20 million members, according to the latest data from ComScore.

The Google+ iPhone app itself recently reached the top of the charts in Apple's App store. However, the app has its own limitations, as it's currently available only for the iPhone and doesn't yet support the iPad or iPod Touch.

Updated 8:45 a.m. PT with statement from Facebook.