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Facebook encouraging staff to 'droidfood' Android apps


That's what Facebook's calling it, at least - a clever play on the word "dogfooding," which is itself a term used to describe when a company tests or uses the very products it's trying to push out into the consumer market. In other words, the notion that, "our product is so good, we'll use it ourselves."

In Facebook's case, TechCrunch's Josh Constine has pulled up some pictures of just how dramatically the company is hoping to get its own employees on board with Facebook apps on the Android platform.

Specifically, two posters are making the rounds at Facebook HQ. In one, the image of Google's Android logo robot hovers nonchalantly behind a large plate of dog food. Printed behind the robot is the phrase, "Do you 'droidfood?," with Facebook imploring its employees to "switch today" at the poster's bottom.

In the second poster, Facebook prints a simple graph of device shipments for both iPhones and Android smartphones - it should come as little surprise that the line for Android shipments, both now and projected, is a lot more "up, up and away" than the line for iPhone shipments. As Facebook describes it on the poster, "here come the Androids."

While a Facebook spokesman was unable to confirm the ratio of iPhones to Android smartphones being used at Facebook, the company's early (and heavy) focus on iOS does ultimately give that platform the win among devices used.

"I don't have a ratio but with the early focus on our iPhone app and the multi-year cycle of carrier contracts we do have more iPhones deployed," said a spokesman in an interview with Constine.

So what does this all mean for your typical, Facebook-obsessed smartphone user? The core news isn't anything new. Facebook's been accused for some time of concentrating a lot more attention on the iOS version of its app than the Android version. Or, as ZDNet's Christopher Dawson described it in an August 2012 article:

"More often than not, I use the mobile version of Facebook on my phone and Nexus 7 instead of the Android app. Although Facebook updated its iOS app this week and finally brought together the separate camera, messenger, and platform apps, the Android incarnation of the app continues to stink. It's slow, eats resources even on a speedy phone like my Razr, lean on useful features, and is generally, as BusinessInsider so diplomatically puts it, 'subpar.'"

What is encouraging, however, is that Facebook's push to get more Android smartphones in the hands of its employees (engineers, especially) will at least allow the company to improve the stability of its releases, if nothing else.

As Constine reports, Facebook automatically updates its employees' Facebook apps to the most recent beta available. As users discover issues within Facebook's apps, they need merely shake their smartphones back and forth to activate a built-in "Rage Shake" feature.

This clever means for bug reporting automatically saves the state of the users' devices and transmits a message about the issue to those tasked with killing bugs within Facebook's apps - which looks, on paper, about a million times easier than pulling up a Web form and filling out an actual bug report.

And perhaps an increased focus on Android use at Facebook will help encourage the various Facebook teams to think a little bit more about the wildly growing platform - and how Facebook apps can best fit within it.