LinkedIn’s iPhone app redesign draws comparison to Facebook

Jan 3, 2010
Tech

LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, has a newly redesigned free iPhone app for iPhone and iPod Touch that’s drawing heavy comparison to that other social networking standby, Facebook (free). But how similar are they? Design When Facebook 3.0 rolled out, its slick, big-button design ushered in a new look for iPhone apps. I think it would […]

LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, has a newly redesigned free iPhone app for iPhone and iPod Touch that’s drawing heavy comparison to that other social networking standby, Facebook (free). But how similar are they?

Design

When Facebook 3.0 rolled out, its slick, big-button design ushered in a new look for iPhone apps. I think it would be fair to say that LinkedIn’s developers knew a good idea when they saw one, changing LI’s iPhone app from a standard bottom-bar iPhone navigation scheme to the more user-friendly big-button layout, a la Facebook’s. Facebook’s UI features nine buttons, whereas LinkedIn features 12, but both iPhone apps make excellent use of the iPhone screen’s real estate and enable users to access key program features quickly.

Updating

Neither the Facebook nor LinkedIn iPhone apps are designed for full updating, meaning there’s no way to edit or enter profile information. With Facebook, you can update your status and photos easily, and the same holds true for LinkedIn. LinkedIn made its updates section extremely similar to Facebook by adding user photos and commenting capabilities.

Customization

LinkedIn’s redesign created space for three new additions to the iPhone app: “Reconnect”, “In Person” and “Themes.” Within “Themes”, users can customize the color of the icons, straying from LinkedIn’s standard blue (don’t do it—most of them make the iPhone app really, really ugly). Facebook doesn’t offer theme customization, but does allow users to add favorites the second menu page.

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Tactile features

LinkedIn also took notes from popular iPhone app Bump (free). The “In Person” feature utilizes the iPhone’s Bluetooth technology (if both users have Bluetooth enabled and the LinkedIn iPhone app launched and opened to the “In Person” screen) to instantly swap contact information by touching devices. Facebook doesn’t offer anything like this, although it does boast a “shake” function to refresh.

Connections

Facebook’s normal Web site constantly offers up suggestions of friends you might know, or users you haven’t connected with in some time. Its iPhone app, on the other hand, is devoid of this (not really a bad thing in my book). LinkedIn, however, chose to include a “Reconnect” feature in-app. Unlike Facebook, which often suggests people I don’t know, “Reconnect” offered up a lengthy list of contacts I had worked with previously. Your options are to ignore or invite, and you can view individual profiles if you need more information.

Although the apps for Facebook and LinkedIn now look alike and work basically the same way, users would do to well to not use the iPhone apps interchangeably. Be smart. Keep your Facebook personal and your LinkedIn professional.

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