FB iPhone App Bug: Search Doesn’t Remember What You Like

Noticed a strange bug when searching for a business page on the Facebook iPhone App. Even thought I had previously liked the business, the search results still displayed a hollowed out thumbs-up icon that indicates I have not yet liked the business. Here’s how to reproduce the bug.

1. Start with a Facebook Page you’ve already visited and liked. Search for this Page in the iPhone app:

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2. Just in case you haven’t liked it yet, double check, and press down on the empty thumbs-up icon to like the page again:

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3. Visit the page and confirm that you have liked the page:

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4. Touch the top level menu to search again. Here you will see your previous search query correctly displayed in the liked state:

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5. Then, clear out the search box:

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6. Finally, search for the same page again. Now, you will see the page displayed again, but it is displayed incorrectly as if it is not in the liked state.

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FB in iOS: Making Sharing More Prominent

Noticed a recent change in the latest FB iPhone App which was presumably done for the purpose of increasing user engagement with stories in the news feed. Before the change, here is how a sample story would look like:

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As shown above, the Like, Comment, and Share calls to action are displayed as simple word links. In addition, the number of likes and comments for the story are shown in a similar treatment with the same amount of prominence and with the same color. 

With the most recent iOS FB app update, here is how this component looks like:

ImageSo what changed?

– The biggest change is the change of word links as the primary CTAs (call to action) to using buttons with icons as the primary CTAs. This is a very huge and radical change. One well-accepted best-practise of conversion for site/app flows is the usage of buttons instead of text links and another best-practise is the usage of icons instead of just words. Here, Facebook is adding two very important components: both the conversion of the word to a button, and the addition of the corresponding CTA icon.

– In terms of overall screen real estate, the primary CTAs are taking up more space. Also, the component that conveys the amount of likes and comments has increased in size. Instead of showing the amount of likes and comments next to their corresponding icons, they are now shown next to the words Likes and Comments.

Is this a good idea? Will this feature succeed?

On the surface level, this is certainly not one of those cases where one design is obviously better than the other. Rather, FB will just simply A/B test this feature and see which design yields a higher level of engagement. What’s interesting about this before and after is that the before had a more prominent display of how previous users had engaged with this story (i.e. the amount of likes and comments) and thus this would increase the probability of the current user wanting to get involved and like or comment. And in contrast, the new design is leaning more toward making the primary CTAs more prominent and more appealing-to-be-clicked instead of relying on the social pressure of the statistics of the story.

Twitter Bug: Incorrect Redirect

Noticed a bug in the Twitter web flow when a non-signed-in user attempts to view another user’s Following list. For example, I was attempting to view the list of Twitter handles that Bill Simmons follows.  

Steps to reproduce: 

1. While you are not signed into your own Twitter account, go to a Twitter page and click on the Following module:

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2. At this point, you will be redirected to the sign-in flow. Presumably, this is because Twitter doesn’t want guest users (not signed in) to view this information: 

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3. After sign-in, you should be redirected to the user’s list of handles they are following. However, you are incorrectly redirected to your own Home feed:

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Gmail “Report Spam” Missing Bulk Functionality

Here’s another case of missing product functionality that may be due to a bug or by design. When going through some of my emails in Gmail, I noticed something interesting with how the Report spam feature works when multiple emails are selected. Let’s take a look. 

Here’s a search for all emails that have the label designated as southwest-junk:

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And here’s the view after all of the emails on the first page of search results are selected: 

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At this point, on mouse-hover over the Report spam button, the button appears as enabled and there is a tooltip text that highlights the functionality. The interesting thing, is that this functionality is not available when all 213 emails in the search set are selected. 

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In the view above, the Report spam button is disabled and the user is not able to report all messages in the search set as spam. While this doesn’t strike me as missing functionality that would be super important to a user, it is a bit arbitrary to allow the user to mark 50 messages as spam, but not 213. Perhaps it was a performance optimization decision – or perhaps a product call. 

 

An Improvement to Hotels.com Search Filtering

When searching for hotels, a common search filter is star rating. As a user, you may be interested in finding hotels that are either 2 stars or 3 stars – no worse or better. Recently, I noticed that Hotels.com does not provide this functionality. Let’s take a look at a sample search:

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At this point, my expectation is to be able to check off one or more of the star ratings in the left hand column. However, I was unpleasantly surprised to see that after checking off one of the options, the others were grayed out:

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Ideally, Hotels.com should allow the user to narrow down to more than one rating level for any given search. A similar site that does allow users to view a list filtered to more than one star rating is Kayak:

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Twitter Doesn’t Work on Safari Mobile Web with Private Browsing Enabled

Safari on the iPhone offers users an option to enable private browsing. If you enable this setting, the browser will stop tracking your web history, your search history, as well as other user inputs such as usernames and passwords. Here’s how you enable the setting in iOS 6.0.1:

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Today, I noticed that if I go to a user’s Twitter page while this setting is enabled for Safari mobile web, Twitter simply does not work. Here’s what the user sees in iOS Safari with private browsing enabled when the user goes to mobile.twitter.com/BillSimmons:

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Essentially, the user sees a blank page with nothing in it. The expected result can be observed when the private browsing setting is disabled:

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I really can’t think of a good reason for the Twitter mobile web experience to stop working correctly if the browser is in the private mode. Perhaps something having to do with cookies that Twitter is trying to manage on the user’s device and an error leading to nothing being shown. But either way, this is a predominantly read-only view and should be shown without issue to the user in either browser mode.

Amazon iPhone App Missing Sales Rank That is Available in Mobile Web

Discovered another case of a disparity between a product’s iPhone app and the same product’s Safari mobile web app on the iPhone. I was browsing for some books on the Amazon iPhone app and was curious to see what the Amazon Sales Rank of a particular book was. Everywhere I looked in the product description, I was surprised to see that I could not find it. So I turned to the mobile web app to see if it existed there. Lo and behold, I found the sales rank in the product details section of the mobile web app product page:

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Then I returned to the iPhone app to see if I could find it in the same section. Surprisingly, I found the same section with all of the same pieces of information for the book, except for one: the sales rank.

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I’m fairly certain that this is a bug and that if Amazon has made the decision to show this piece of information to the user in the mobile web view, there’s no reason not to show the same information in the iPhone app view. Especially since they are showing all other pieces of information (i.e. ISBN numbers, number of pages, shipping weight, etc.) in the same Product Details view.

An Enhancement to LinkedIn Connections of a Connection Pagination

I was browsing through the connections of one of my own connections on LinkedIn. In other words, this is the equivalent of going through a friend’s list of friends on Facebook. 

Here’s what I saw. I’ve blacked out the profiles that take up most of the screenshot, but the key part to observe is the numerical pagination at the bottom of the screen:

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What struck me about this design is that the pagination is not very intuitive. How on earth do I know what page 4 has, and what page 34 has? The whole purpose of including these various options for the user is to make it easier for the user to find what they are looking for. In this case, I would be much better served if there were links to alphabetical letters representing the different last names of my colleague’s connections. That would be an entirely more intuitive approach. 

Going back to the analogy of comparing this to Facebook friends of friends. That page is currently designed by using progressive loading of the page that eventually loads all of the friends of my friend. LinkedIn can use a similar approach (which they already do in their newer People You May Know page) or they can use alphabetical pagination for a more user friendly experience. 

 

Facebook iPhone App: Update Cover Photo Functionality Unclear

Recently, while I was going for a walk, I saw something really cool that I wanted to use as my new Facebook cover photo. I took a photo of it with my trusty iPhone and then went to my profile page in the Facebook iPhone App, ….., and then I was stuck. As far as I could tell, there was no way to update my cover photo directly from the iPhone App. I tried left swipe, right swipe, holding down on the cover photo, touching the cover photo, but to no avail…

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Here is what the profile page looks like in the web view. On mouse-hover, the user is presented with a Change Cover button in the bottom right corner of the current cover photo. Ideally, the iOS app should be modified to allow the user similar functionality. Possibly on touch of the picture, or hard press down, or even a tiny button in the bottom right corner in a similar manner as the web view.Image