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Facebook’s iPhone and Android apps get big updates

Got an iPhone or Android smartphone? You’ll be wanting to update to the all-new version of the Facebook application then. The social network has just released version 3.3.1 of its iPhone app and version 1.4 of its Android app. We think you’ll like the new features.

For starters, the apps now support the new Facebook Groups feature, which lets you create groups of family or friends to share specific updates and photos with. You can’t create a group from the app, but you can access the ones you’ve set up or joined on the Facebook website.

Facebook Places has also been overhauled. The most important update is the fact that you can now post a photo when you check-in to a real-world location. It should encourage more people to use the feature, since telling your friends you’re in Bar A or Restaurant B is one thing, but showing them a pic of the monster cocktail / monster leg of lamb that you’re enjoying is another.

The news feed screen has also been tweaked, with buttons at the top to post a photo, an update or check-in. Version 1.4 of the Android app is the first to feature Facebook Places at all, incidentally – until now it’s just been an iPhone thing.

Finally, for US-based Facebook users only at this point (on iPhones) there’s a new feature called Deals. It lets local businesses and venues offer discounts and offers to people checking in. They’ll show up with a special icon when you’re browsing the list of nearby Places to check in to. In the US, the likes of Starbucks, Gap and McDonald’s are using the new feature from launch. We just want to know when it’ll roll out here.

Oh, one more thing: there are now 200 million people accessing Facebook from their phones globally. That’s more than a third of all Facebook users.

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