INQ Cloud Touch review: Facebook
We've decided to include a special section dealing with Facebook for the INQ Cloud Touch, basically because there's so much stuff going on here that we couldn't do it justice in the apps section.
On the one hand, the Facebook integration is nothing more than a separation of the standard Android application with some neat features placed on the top - on the other, it's a much more efficient way of interacting with Facebook on the go.
While it does pollute the main menu to have all the different elements of the application as icons (Chat, Places, Friends etc) it's placing them on the homescreen that makes the difference, as we found it really handy to be able to reach for the likes of Chat, which we use a lot, without having to keep opening up the main application.
Of more use, and to incredible cool effect, is the main Facebook widget on the home screen; it offers up way more than the standard scrolling list of status updates.
It shows the most recent status updates in a large preview pane - and if they share a video or Spotify playlist, it will open the dedicated application up for it on the phone as soon as you tap.
Navigating through the updates is a little bit niggly though - you have to tap a tiny icon to move left or right, where swiping would be a little bit more intuitive. However, on the home screen this might be an issue - but we'd expect INQ to have worked this out.
UPDATE: INQ has overhauled this feature already, so the tiny icons are a little less tiny. We're still not massive fans, but INQ has also promised updates to the widget in the future, so swipable options are a definite possibilty.
It didn't stop us deleting it though, as the people shown weren't always ones we cared about much, so we soon got fed up of reading about people we used to know at school on a regular basis.
But a cooler feature: the People tab. This opens up a 'notepad' style view of your most-visited contacts, using the Social Graph API from Facebook to decide on the best contacts to use. It then shows their profile picture and recent posts in a much more attractive format, and one we'd love to see replicated on the desktop.
The INQ Cloud Touch shows a little star and the friend's profile icon in the People tab whenever there's an update to be read, which is helpful too.
You can also go in and tinker with the friends you want to see - we had a few odd choices at the start, but overall it was very accurate indeed, and quite eye-opening.
But, and this is a big but, every time you open the client to see your favourite friends, there's a roughly 30 second delay where you have to watch a spinning icon as the app updates. When you've just been told there's an update to look at, this is highly irritating.
UPDATE: INQ has tweaked this area as well, and while it now takes a lot less time to update, at 5-10 seconds every time the app updates, it's still miles too slow, which is going to really annoy some people.
The other tabs could do with the same treatment too - like the notifications tab bringing a star every time you got something of note to look at, rather than an icon in the top phone window (although there's every chance this will be updated in the future, we can only review what's in front of us). The Places check-in tool is helpful though, as it reminds you to keep the service updated.