Completely rebuilt, “blazing fast” Facebook for iPhone coming next month

Don’t you just hate Facebook’s iOS app, a glorified HTML5 web app wrapped with an Objective-C shell? We do: it’s sluggish for a native apps and unresponsive more often than not. Facebook feels your pain and they’re about to do something about it, allegedly re-writing the program from the ground up with speed in mind…

The changes will affect the underlying technology rather than the user interface or the feature set.

Nick Bilton, writing for the New York Times, has it from two unnamed Facebook engineers that a completely rebuilt Facebook for iOS app is coming next month:

Facebook has completely rebuilt its iOS application to optimize for one thing: speed… Many of the components of the current version of the Facebook app are built using HTML5, a Web-based programming language… The current version of the app is essentially an Objective-C shell with a Web browser inside.

It’s going to be really fast in that it’ll take full advantage of the iPhone’s hardware, Bilton reports:

When it comes to speed, this is like putting the engine of a Smart Car in the body of a Ferrari. Applications that are predominantly HTML5 render most of the components of an app as a Web page, pulling images and content from the Web directly into the application.

Objective-C takes the opposite approach, taking full advantage of the hardware in the iPhone and then building most of the functionality directly into the application so it has to collect less information from the Web.

Looks like our prayers have been listened and that Facebook will have a truly native iOS client after all.

Message to Facebook: next time your iOS user base complains about obvious missteps, try fixing them ASAP.

Do you use mobile Facebook site on your iPhone or their sluggish iOS app?