Facebook Updates iPhone and iPad Apps With Chat Heads

PHOTO: Facebooks new iPhone app includes Chatheads for messaging.Facebook
Facebook's new iPhone app includes Chatheads for messaging.

IPhone users no longer have to eye those Facebook Chat Heads on their friends' Android phones. Today Facebook released an update to its iPhone and iPad apps, which brings its new messaging feature to Apple's software platform.

The Chat Heads feature, which was originally announced as part of Facebook's Home Android software experience, allows you to message with Facebook friends. Instead of a notification along the top of your screen, a small circular icon with a friend's profile photo pops up. But while Chat Heads will pop up within any app on Facebook Home on Android phones -- email, Twitter, Yelp -- on the iPhone those Chat Heads pop up only when you are in the Facebook app.

"Chat Heads will appear within the Facebook app," Corey Ondrejka, Facebook VP of mobile engineering, said at the "All Things D: Dive Into Mobile" conference in New York today. "Apple doesn't give hooks to be persistent across the entire apps."

While that's a downside, within the Facebook iPhone or iPad app you can still drag the different Chat Head icons around and move them to the bottom of the screen to close the conversation.

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But that's not the only change coming to the iOS apps. Facebook has redesigned the app, adding some new navigation elements across the bottom of the app and adding a sticker capability, which allows you to place different icons and stickers in a chat. You can also filter your Newsfeed so that you see only photos and lists of specific friends.

Earlier this month Facebook announced Facebook Home, a software layer for Android phones. The immersive Facebook experience adds a feature called Cover Feed to the front of your phone, which cycles through photos of your friends and images from your Newsfeed.

The software is available only for select Android phones, including the HTC One and the Galaxy S3. The HTC First is the first phone to ship with the Home software; it is available at AT&T now for $99.99. Ondrejka said at the conference today that Facebook would release the first update for Facebook Home during the second week of May.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg said that the company was now a mobile company. The social network has completely revamped its iOS and Android apps over the past year and plans to roll out its new version on Newsfeed on mobile phones this year.

The update to the Facebook app for the iPhone and iPad app is available today in the App Store, however, you might not see the Chat Head or sticker functionality immediately.