Facebook rolls out Android beta updates to select users

Facebook Android app beta updates
Facebook for Android app gets beta updates

Facebook revealed today that it began rolling out beta updates of its Android app to select users, bypassing the usual route of installing updates through the Google Play store.

This is intended to allow a limited amount of users to experience new features through the silent updates before a wider release using Google Play, Facebook told TechRadar.

The Android app's first beta update lets users change their profile photo using their mobile device, and allows them to hide stories and report spam, discovered website Liliputing.

"The Facebook app beeps or vibrates incessantly until you install it," reports the site.

Opt-in beta updates

The good news is that these select Android users aren't random guinea pigs.

Facebook made it clear to TechRadar that the beta updates only occur if a user has allowed non-Google Play apps to be installed on their phone or tablet.

Additionally, the Facebook Android app beta updates only happen over Wi-Fi and when users have initiated installation, the company noted.

Keep shipping

Facebook's transition to rolling out updates to the Android platform echoes what it has been doing for years with its desktop component.

The social networking site's recently announced Graph Search and and new News Feed, for example, haven't been made available to everyone yet.

The company has expressed a culture of moving fast, keeping true to that "keep shipping" mentality.

Whether or not this is the first step for Facebook to break with official app stores remains to be seen, as does any signs of an often-denied, but often-rumored Facebook phone.

Matt Swider