One of Android’s greatest strengths is its intents system. This lets you swap out certain apps to use others for basic functions like typing, texting, and calling. We covered this extensively with our Beat the Stock series.
However, there are actually other options to replace famous apps, not just basic functions like dialers. You can access certain services through alternate apps which offer a better interface.
For example, take Facebook. The world’s most popular social network has multiple app alternatives available for mobile devices. If you still follow your friends on Facebook, don’t bother with the official app. Try these instead.
The Competition: Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg and company took their sweet time about it, but they did finally make a decent way to use their social network on mobile.
Facebook continually improves, offering incremental performance improvements with each version. It’s a decent experience.
The interface can feel odd next to other Android apps, though. It doesn’t fit Google’s design guidelines for its interface and visual layout.
The Facebook App Alternatives
Atrium offers a decent alternative to Facebook. It does a great job setting up, as you only select a few boxes in order to authorize it to all parts of your account.
Performance is snappy. You can open pages, check out photos, and read status updates with little to no waiting.
The only issue is its interface. I’m not a fan of the oversized text, large ads, and undersized menu elements. The app looks designed for smaller phones, not the current crop of 5-inch behemoths.
There also doesn’t appear to be a way to shut down the app without signing out. Using a constant notification is irritating. Barring these, it’s a pretty good experience.
Tinfoil rarely updates, and almost never adds new features. There’s a reason for that. Tinfoil does exactly what it wants to, and nothing more.
Users unhappy with Facebook’s encroaching permissions in its official app wanted a way to use the service without letting it constantly access their GPS.
Tinfoil is a bare-bones wrapper around Facebook’s web app. It requires no permissions other than internet access.
Facebook’s mobile site has a decent interface, and Tinfoil is a cool way to use it while still keeping a dedicated app.
Although a new app, Klyph is my favorite way to use Mark Zuckerberg’s social network. It renders Facebook’s content in the user interface of the Google+ app.
Google+ has a fantastic interface, so getting to use it with Facebook is appreciated. I’d recommend Klyph to any Android fan looking for a social networking app that takes its design seriously.
The only downside is that you have to pay to remove the ads, but even that’s not bad. For a redesigned Facebook app miles ahead of the official one, I’ll take a few ads.
Fast for Facebook
Fast hails from an earlier era when Facebook still used slow HTML5 code to power its apps. It specialized in delivering content faster than the official app.
Now that Facebook for Android is native, though, Fast for Facebook tries to specialize in offering multiple interfaces, themes, and highlight colors.
The problem is that the themes and colors look weird. The Holo elements seem misplaced at times. Not a fan of the ads, either.
Fast for Facebook is worth a look if you’d like a decent alternative Facebook app, but it’s not the best.
Friendcaster offers a good interface with sharp graphics and dark colors. It’s not quite Holo… but it’s close.
The app uses ads, but that’s about it in terms of downsides. Definitely worth a try.
Seesmic is a weird app that mashes Facebook and Twitter together in one app. It’s okay at both, but not great. Social network junkies might appreciate having a combined app.
The interface is odd, though. It’s not Holo or modern or Android-y or anything. It seems unappealing.
If you’re looking for an alternate Facebook app, Klyph is your best bet. Its interface and free price are a great combination.
Recommended Reading: The 5 Best Podcast Apps for Android