Facebook's main app and site is a crowded space of personal posts, friends' feeds and advertising, but the company has released a slew of individual apps to break out its features. One may actually be worth your time, and phone's storage space.
Facebook Groups is a standalone mobile app that the social network released to help the site's users "share faster and more easily" with their groups, the company wrote in a November 2014 blog post. While the mobile app has been available for the last seven months, the Facebook's main mobile app continues to notify users to download the separate Groups app.
The download message can appear as a banner at the bottom of the Facebook app when a user is already accessing the "Groups" tab. And if you're an avid user of groups on Facebook, you may want to consider clicking download. The Groups app provides several additional features, easier accessibility to functions and no ads. Seriously, no ads.
In case you're confused by the term Groups, they're the communities Facebook users can join within which members can access discussion boards, photo albums and event pages. Facebook Pages are more catered as profile pages for celebrities, brands and businesses. For some Facebook users, Groups may be joke interests from high school. For others, it's a dedicated destination for coordinating activities between friends, classmates, colleagues or others online with similar interests.
Here are some benefits of the Groups app:
1) Notifications from your Groups are limited within the Groups app rather than the main Facebook app. You will not get duplicate notifications, and you're also preventing your Facebook app from being crowded with reminders. Within the Groups app, you can select to receive push notifications -- a feature not readily available in the standalone Facebook app.
Go to "Settings," and tap on "Push Notifications." There, you can choose to turn off the feature for anywhere from 15 minutes to 24 hours. You can also select which groups to receive notifications from. Tap on an individual group name, and you can select to receive a push notification for "All Posts," "Highlights" (meaning posts with lots of likes or comments) or "Off." In-app notifications can also be turned off.
2) Easier monitoring is available on the separate Groups app. On the main Facebook page, you access Groups by going to "More" and then scrolling down to the "Groups" section. There, only your three most recently accessed Groups are listed in a drop-down format. On the Groups app, the individual pages are displayed in a grid format with circles filled with the cover photo and the name below. Numbers in the upper-right corner are the notifications, such as new posts or events.
The Groups are ordered first with your "Favorites" -- which ones you access the most -- and then by which ones you have recently visited. For faster access, you can create a short-cut to a specific group that can be added on your homescreen.
3) No direct advertising is currently present on the Groups app. While your Facebook News Feed can be filled with video ads and other sponsored content, the Groups app is specifically designed for access to the Groups you are in. Future money-making strategies could include incorporating the sell feature or "buy" buttons, as TechCrunch reports.
For now, when you tap on a circle, you'll be brought to the Group page, where you'll see the discussion board. The main layout doesn't differ by much. The starkest contrast comes in that the Groups app does not have the general Facebook search bar at the top or other general buttons at the bottom. Instead, that space is catered to the specific Group page you're on. The bottom bar includes Photos; Group Chats; Event Pages; and Additional Info. The top bar allows you to search within that Group.
4) Discover new Groups through the click of just a few buttons. While the main Facebook app also includes a page to "Find New Groups" or "Create Group," the Groups app is far more easier to process. For example, click on "Discover" and you'll have a list of suggested groups to join along with the reasons why. The recommendations can be made from Facebook Pages you have liked, Groups your Facebook friends are in or Groups similar to ones you are already in. When you click "Not Interested," that data can help better cater future suggestions.
5) Creating new Groups is also much more intuitive on the Groups app. On the main Facebook app, after you click "Create Group," you have to choose a name and then a group of friends to invite. On the Groups app, you choose a category and then proceed through the steps on a much sleeker interface.
An obvious con of downloading the Groups app is that it will take up more storage space on your phone. The Groups app is about 80 MB on iOS, which is average for mobile apps of its nature. To put that into perspective, Facebook Messenger is just over 100 MB while Facebook is over 200 MB.
Unlike Messenger, the app does not integrate with the main Facebook app in that you won't be brought back and forth between the two. But if you're looking for a better mobile experience for Groups, downloading the Groups app will do so. The app is available for iOS and Android.