You can finally test out the new Facebook for Android UI (if you want to)

It’s no secret the official Facebook for Android app could use a bit of a facelift after years of ducking and dodging design guidelines. First murmurings of a redesign spawned months ago after several users noticed they were treated to a new user interface, but it seemed to be a server-side switch that Facebook controlled. Many are often whisked back to the old user interface after seeing a single glimpse.

facebook alpha new ui screen

But it looks like Facebook is finally getting a move on getting the UI to everyone, as they have enabled it by default for anyone who is signed up to be an alpha tester for the app. You’re likely salivating at the chance to use the new user interface, so let’s cut to the chase on what you need to do:

  1. If you’re not part of the beta group, you can skip to step 3.
  2. If you’re part of the beta group, you’ll need to leave it. Do so by heading to the Facebook Beta Group here, and selecting to leave the group.
  3. Once you are no longer part of the beta group, you’ll need to sign up for the alpha group. Do so by heading to the Facebook Alpha Group here, and selecting Join Group.
  4. Once you’re confirmed to be in the alpha group, you should be able to go to to the Play Store on your phone and install the latest alpha version of Facebook over your existing installation.
  5. Your app might have problems launching at this point. Simply go into the app’s settings (Settings > Applications > Find Facebook) and clear cache and data. You will be logged out of Facebook so make sure you remember your password.

From there you should be treated to an awesome new user interface, featuring flat iconography and swiping gestures to make Facebook for Android feel more “at home.” It isn’t full-on #HOLOYOLO, but we’ll take anything we can get at this point.

Quick disclaimer: by joining the alpha group, you’re accepting that there may be some nasty bugs. Said bugs are fixed often, which also means you’ll have frequent app updates compared to the stable version.

The alpha build is considered to be so cutting edge that features might work in one update and be completely broken in the next. As long as you understand all of that, then go wild. Let us know how you’re liking the new drags in the comments below!

[via Reddit]

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  • Roaduardo

    Signed up soon as I read this. I’m liking this so far, much better look already and it feels more “Android” rather than a blasted iOS port. Better late than never I guess. Still very annoying it’s taken them this long for some substantial updating. Let’s see how it goes…

    • Albert Orange

      Uh… the iOS version has always been leagues better than the Android version. (I use iOS and Android) The iOS version offers better stability and new features first. I actually think that the new UI on the Android version makes it look MORE like the iOS version. Anyway… it seems to me like the iOS version has got the “A” team working on it and the “B” team working on the Android version. When iOS7 dropped with a system wide change in look, color scheme and feel… Facebook had an update right away with a new look to match up the new OS. Google introduced HOLO UI back in 2011 and the Facebook Android team is only now updating it’s UI to conform to the OS.

  • cr0wnest

    I left the alpha group yesterday after i just got this UI overhaul. My app wont launch and I had to clear app data, relogin, use it for a while before the same thing happened again, Went back to the beta program, I can wait. :)

    • Ilay Ron

      Happened to me too – there’s a new update that fixes it.

      • cr0wnest

        Sweet, maybe I’ll give it a shot again.

      • Jon J.

        Build ending in .19 doesn’t crash on open.

    • Jesse Henderson

      I had that too issue too until I tried clearing cache. That fixed it! Clearing data only let me log in and use it once.

    • Roaduardo

      Fortunately I didn’t experience that. Once I signed up I just simply updated my app and everything seems to be working well so far. So many different devices out there using this, it’s amazing how many variations of bugs there are and will be along the way to a stable version.

      *edit* Experiencing the same bug with the comments on images.

    • jdawg0024

      same thing happened to me on my stock Nexus 5. That was on Version 9.0.0.18, however, now the version number is 9.0.0.19 and that issue seems to be fixed.

  • Jon J.

    Photo comments are broken. You can view them if the picture isn’t full screen, but the popup doesn’t load of you click to view likes/comments when the pic is full screen

    • cr0wnest

      Close the comments and open them again, it’ll load the second time. This issue has been in the alpha several updates ago.

      • Jon J.

        No luck. Doesn’t matter how many times I close comments & reopen them. If the picture is full screen, comments won’t load.

  • http://www.twitter.com/OtisFeelgood1 OtisFeelgood

    Just installed the alpha update. The new UI is nice.

  • Josh Reeser

    I don’t get it. Left beta joined alpha, waited quite awhile, went to store no update option. I uninstall/reinstall and I see no difference from the beta I was using. What’s the version # suppose to be?

    • sdrawkcab25

      9.0.0.0.19

      • Josh Reeser

        Yea mine refuses to update. Says I’m still on 8.0.x.x.x

      • Sir_K33tanz

        Now 9.0.0.0.20 today – Not sure what fixes were made, but stumbled here looking for the change logs.

    • Felipe Guerra Turra

      Mine says 8.0.0.15.24 but I have the new UI..

      • Josh Reeser

        Same version here and still on old ugly UI

        • Evan Lam

          8.0.0.15.24 is beta. did when you say you left beta, did you make sure you opted out from beta through the play store, or did you just leave the google group?

  • agoNITE

    Hope Facebook starts using KitKat immersive mode in a future update!

  • Felipe Guerra Turra

    I’ve been using it for at least one month… and it is much better! Everything works fine

  • IVHorseMen

    Loving the UI.

  • Josh Reeser

    I guess it doesn’t work for everyone. I’ve tried everything they recommend and nothing. Way to go Facebook….. Yet again

    • Schaweet

      Maybe you should read thoroughly before you complain. It clearly states on the group page that it may take several hours for the alpha build to show up. Patience is a virtue.

      • Josh Reeser

        Or maybe something is messed up? I read all of it thoroughly and people on my carrier and other carriers sitting next to me in the office instantly were able to update but I wasn’t? Doesn’t sound like a “rolling update” issue to me.

        • Schaweet

          Ok, were you already in the Alpha group or did you just join it?

          • Josh Reeser

            Just joined the alpha from beta. Just like everyone here except that they weren’t even in beta before and they instantly got alpha.

            Oh well guess I’m the odd one out here

          • Schaweet

            I am in the same boat as you as I just left the beta to join the alpha. No update yet for me either. I’m guessing it takes a bit for the system to clear you from one and join the other. I’ll start worrying about it tomorrow if I’m still not switched over.

          • Josh Reeser

            Yea guess so. Oh well then. Take it easy

          • Evan Lam

            Not sure if you guys got the update yet, but if you joined the alpha test from beta, it helps if you just uninstall the app and then reinstall it.

  • TONY ALDO

    Seems that most popular feed is default rather than most recent.

    • No_Nickname90

      I don’t use Most Recent. That’s because the Top Feeds shows me stuff from previous days when I haven’t logged on in a while. I like that better. I like to see what I missed.

      Most Recents, I’d have to not be lazy and filter out the people I rarely speak with, or the people who’s post I just don’t want to see.

  • rogue3

    This article almost makes me want to sign up…except I’m not putting any Facebook app on my phone until they change the permissions. The app gets access to pretty much everything you do on your device: contacts, call log, email, texts, calendar, browsing history, etc. I know most apps get quite a bit of rights, but this is just way too much for me.

    • ichuck7

      That’s why I love being rooted. I dictate to Facebook what permissions it gets. Did you know every time Facebook starts up, it accesses your location. Besides from being creepy, that’s a big battery drain. Thanks to root, I don’t have that problem anymore.

      • rogue3

        I’m rooted and running CM. Didn’t know I could do this. I’ll have to Google it!

        • ichuck7

          Should be under the “apps permissions” in settings. I’m glad I could help. :-)

  • Justan Palutis

    How do I make most recent the default

    • Evan Lam

      there is no way to set it as your default as of yet but im sure you know you can access it from the more tab. You cam report it to facebook through the app as general feedback (i think thats the one, the point is not the one for bugs) and tell them that you are part of the alpha or beta (i think they have pushed the new ui to beta) and that you want the option to be able to set most recent as the default option (i did this) . If enough people tell them, i’m sure they will add that option back in.

  • Jason Ho

    The new interface is far worse than the old one. It is so unintuitive. I don’t care whether it looks ‘better’ or flatter’, I care for usability. You can view posts that you clicked on from news feed or notifications, and when you go back to that tab it is saved there, but to actually see notifications you have to touch twice. I end up with confusion of which tab actually has a page loaded or something. The whole experience just feels odd, going back to an older version with the old interface.

    • ichuck7

      That’s why it’s an alpha.