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LinkedIn’s Android app finally gets a worthy update... kind of

by Marty Gabel

It took a while, but LinkedIn has finally updated and improved its Android and iOS mobile applications. Admittedly, the hugely popular professional social networking site took a long time to arrive on Android. While iOS had the app back in August 2008, it took until last year for a beta version to hit Android, and the full, official release earlier this year.

The new update has revealed an app completely rewritten from the ground up, increasing both its speed and simplicity. This is a big deal. After all, LinkedIn seems like the perfect app to have access to on a mobile device in a professional networking situation, so I’m kind of surprised it took them this long to make such notable improvements.

What got better?

According to Chad Whitney on the LinkedIn blog, the app is “between two and ten times faster across all features, ranging from search to reading your update stream.” There are a number of notable areas where things have been reorganized and improved including better, more visible updates, easier viewing of your inbox, better access to contacts and the ability to view and interact with Groups, “the #1 most-requested feature from our members,” according to Whitney.

Having taken the app for a spin myself, it’s definitely improved. It feels snappier, less clunky, and it mirrors the website content better. Previous incarnations of the app felt like a stripped-down experience which missed out on many important features. Now, a lot more of what you use on the website is available within the Android app.

Still some way to go

But there are still a few things missing. I can’t edit/update my profile directly through the app, and though I can see my inbox of messages, I can’t view the ones I’ve sent or archived. It runs a little sluggishly on older devices (there have been a few complaints about this in the Android Market reviews, but take those with as large a pinch of salt as you wish), and the app is unable to be moved to your SD card, a feature many people like to use (though this issue may be unique to my device and version of Android).

However, all is not lost, because the folks at LinkedIn were smart enough to revamp their mobile site to take advantage of the all the fun wizardry that is HTML5. Accessible at touch.linkedin.com on your Android (or iPhone) browser, LinkedIn is encouraging its users to try the new site out and offer feedback. I excitedly navigated to the new URL expecting a full-on LinkedIn experience but was a tad disappointed in what I found. It’s pretty much identical in appearance to the app, offering the same exact features and similar limitations as we’ve outlined above.

So, LinkedIn have definitely taken a step in the right direction with its new Android app. While it’s most certainly a useful one to keep in your pocket, you’re still going to need to pull up the site on your laptop or desktop computer (or simply browse the non-mobile version on your phone/tablet) to really tweak everything in your profile, or to access the deep functionality that the LinkedIn website offers.