Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting anything as earth-shattering as quitting Facebook. Just quitting the official Facebook app. Among tech aficionados, the Facebook app is the one app you would never put on a new device because of how bloated and resource-hungry it is, but there are plenty of folks out there that do have it installed. However, a recent ground-swell of anti-Facebook sentiment is seeing more and more people try life without the official app, and liking what they see.
The main things Facebook is accused of doing is taking up too much space (the official app is 40 MB), consuming too much RAM, causing persistent wakelocks, background processes draining battery and generally being the root of all evil. There’s surprisingly little factual evidence around for all these claims, but there is certainly no shortage of anecdotal evidence that Facebook is the primary cause of a sluggish Android experience. For every one of these claims there’s usually another that states uninstalling the app leads to near-instantaneous performance improvements.
Whether you find your system performance to be so bad that something must be done, you simply want a faster and more streamlined Facebook experience or you just want to know the truth for yourself, there’s certainly no harm in uninstalling Facebook for a while.
Facebook app alternatives
The first thing you’re going to need to do is find yourself a Facebook app alternative. Assuming the main reasons you uninstalled Facebook was to kill its battery-draining, background process-using, resource-chewing habits, then you’re probably going to want something lighter, leaner and faster. Considering how bad the Facebook app is, that isn’t very hard to do. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to find an equivalent Facebook experience elsewhere.
Google Play is full of alternative Facebook apps, but in all honesty, most of them are not very good. I’ve tried pretty much all of them and generally return to the same three or four solutions, which I’ll list for you below. The good news about all of these is that none of them auto-play video ads in your stream either.
Using a Google Chrome “web view” shortcut is probably the lightest and fastest option around. Since September last year, when you sign into Facebook in Chrome, you’ll see a popup requesting permission to let Chrome send you Facebook notifications. Saying yes to this request means that you can now get Facebook push notifications via the browser, making the Facebook app redundant.
Simply open Facebook in Chrome on your device and log in. When the Chrome request appears at the bottom of the screen, tap Allow. Now, tap the Chrome overflow menu button and tap Add to Home screen. You’ll get an admittedly large Facebook icon added to your home screen that will take you straight to your web version of Facebook in Chrome and you’ll still get push notifications like normal.
Metal is one of the few Facebook alternative apps I’d recommend. The best thing is it works for both Facebook and Twitter, so you can kill two birds with one stone. Metal is a web wrapper app, meaning that it isn’t so much of an app itself as a skin for the web version of Facebook.
Like the Chrome solution above, Metal can also send you push notifications but it improves on the Chrome fix by adding a huge array of extras. Metal including various themes, a floating mini app-window for FB updates on the fly, a navigation drawer, Twitter support, fingerprint access, interface options (like full screen mode and fixed toolbar while scrolling), proxies, pinned pages for a custom shortcut menu, floating action button and forced mobile or desktop site view. It’s pretty brilliant.
If Metal sounds all a bit too complicated, the old dinosaur of Facebook alternative apps is Tinfoil for Facebook. Again, Tinfoil for Facebook is just a web wrapper app, but it’s super fast and has its own handy navigation drawer and shortcuts. It’s nowhere near as feature-packed as Metal, but it is even smaller and faster.
Tinfoil doesn’t sync in the background, use any more resources than the Chrome shortcut or cache data, so it’s very battery and system friendly. Tinfoil doesn’t include push notifications though, but you can simply use Chrome notifications to keep up to date or install IF by IFTTT and add the Facebook notifications recipe. You’ll just need to go to your Facebook notifications settings page on a computer and grab your RSS feed URL so you can plug it into the IF recipe.
If you like the main Facebook app but can’t put up with its battery-draining, performance killing nature anymore, you could also try Facebook lite. If you haven’t heard about it, Facebook Lite is an official Facebook app originally designed for markets where fast-flowing internet connections are not always available. But folks anywhere can use it as a faster, leaner alternative to Facebook that consumes less data and requires less system resources to run.
Facebook Lite offers a similar, if pared down, experience to the main Facebook app, but it is much, much smaller: just half a MB compared to 40 MB for the normal app. Facebook Lite also has native push notifications and chat, so there’s no need to keep Facebook’s Messenger app installed if you take this option. Unless you’re in a supported market you can’t search for Facebook Lite in Google Play, but you can get it via the Play Store link below.
Have you tried the “no Facebook app” challenge? How do you access Facebook?