Praise be! Facebook finally updates their Android app

If you’re an Android user, I’m pretty sure you’ve tried to use the official Facebook app. And then given up.

The functionality is lame, the notifications don’t work, and — most annoying of all — most of the actions within the app require being bumped out onto the mobile site anyway. In short: it stinks.

But today, all that changes. Today sees version 1.3 hit the Android Market, and with it comes a butt-load of improvements. So many, in fact, that I may start using the app regularly. And that’s saying something.

So, what’s changed?

First up: don’t expect complete liberation from the mobile site. Clicking on a notification still bumps you out to the (touch) Facebook page. This is still a bit of a bummer (as it makes you question why you even opened the app), but most features are now in-app. For instance, messages can be read and responded to from within the app. But wait, there’s more…

First and foremost is the timeline of pictures that sits down the bottom of the main screen. This shows the latest images from your News Feed. Handily, this includes the thumbnails for any links posted, so is a good place to see if any of your friends have found a new video of cats chasing laser beams.

Also, the notifications are no longer tucked away under a menu, but rather, appear as a notification “drawer” similar to Android’s native notification system (only down the bottom of the screen). This is actually quite nice, as you now know how many notifications you have as soon as you open the app.

Photos are now also handled within the app, and you can comment from within the app, too.

So, to round off, this updated is a must-have for every Android user (assuming you’re also a Facebook user, that is), and one that has been much-needed for a long time now. The functionality divide between the iOS Facebook app and the Android app is now finally closing. Let’s just hope that Monsieur Zuckerberg’s switch to Android keeps this progress rolling. Hands up who wants Facebook chat enabled?