Facebook mobile update gives photos three times more space

15 May 2012

The new layout of the Facebook news feed for mobile users

If you use Facebook on any mobile device – be it iOS, Android, or even a mobile web browser – you’ll soon see your news feed become more photo friendly with a new Instagram-like layout.

As of yesterday, Facebook began rolling out a new design for the mobile news feed that will see photos get three times more space, and all posts filling the screen from edge to edge.

This ‘full-bleed’ effect is similar to the latest iteration of Google+ for iOS (coming soon to Android), but the layout is an even closer reflection of Facebook’s latest acquisition, Instagram.

The purchase of Instagram is still awaiting FTC approval (which could take up to a year) and, until this has been cleared, Facebook won’t be able to fully integrate Instagram’s features. However, it can still pay homage to the photo-sharing app’s style, apparently.

Larger images, longer load time?

Instagram has been an unmitigated mobile success and the square photo format is ideal for browsing on smartphones as the whole image fits neatly in the screen with no need to move away from the main feed to view in full. Facebook images haven’t taken this shape, but the new layout does give users a better preview of images and photo albums.

Users that do want to see images in full are often frustrated by the slow load time on mobile devices. While bigger previews give these users a glimpse without the need to view full-screen, loading a news feed containing images that are three times larger might take three times longer.

Image browsing has always been a huge driver of traffic for Facebook, especially in terms of keeping viewers on-site for lengthy periods, but optimising this feature for the mobile web is a challenge. While the new layout represents a step in the right direction, other users may be wondering why this has taken priority over the addition of a share button or the ability to tag users in-line in a status update.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.