Facebook Launches App For Feature Phones

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Facebook’s Every Phone app brings social networking to phones dumber than a smartphone

Facebook yesterday launched an app called Every Phone which takes the social network beyond smartphones to dumb “feature” phones. compatible with 2,500 handsets.

Designed for Java-enabled feature phones, the new app includes Facebook favourites like status updates, the news feed, inbox and photos. It also allows enables photo upload and syncing friends and mobile phone contacts.

Facebook has secured a deal with mobile network Three for free data access to the app for 90 days to give users the chance to try it out.

Light on data

The app has been optimised to use less data than other Java apps to keep costs down after the trial period, Facebook said.

“At Facebook, we work to ensure people around the world have a great Facebook experience no matter where they are or how they access our site,” Facebook said in its announcement.

“The Facebook for Every Phone app will be available globally on Java-enabled phones starting today, and we are working on making the app compatible with even more handsets in the future.”

The app is demonstrated in a video on Facebook. It can be downloaded by entering m.facebook.com in mobile browsers and selecting download or from app stores such as GetJar, Appia, and Mobile Weaver.

Largest market in the world

Despite the hype around smartphones, feature phones are still the most popular phones on the planet. Smartphones are still in the minority in the US with 38 percent of the market, according to a recent Nielsen report.

Getting Facebook out to these less-powerful devices has been attacked in various ways before. A SIM-card based application that allows any GSM phones to interact with Facebook  was unveiled by Gemalto at the Mobile World Congress in February – and goes one further by carrying all communications by SMS instead of by mobile data.

Users of the Gemalto application can access Facebook features such as friend requests, status updates, wall posts or messages via text-based menus, with updates passed back and forth between the handset and the web via SMS.

The Gemalto service is available for pay-as-you-go and pay-monthly customers but users are charged a subscription fee, buying a pass for unlimited usage of the service for a given period of time.

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