Current delivers the best way to use Facebook on the Mac



Facebook apps for the Mac have come and gone over the years, but none have managed to capture much attention. A new contender has the goods to stick around.

After working at Apple as an engineer on WebKit and iAd, Scott Kyle decided to get into indie app development. His first stab at it is Current, a new Facebook app for OS X that lives primarily in the menubar. With quality design, notifications, a classic chat interface, and some other tricks up its sleeve, Current makes Facebook feel at home on the Mac.

Current is designed around managing your Facebook messages and notifications, not news feed browsing (although it can be easily used for the latter). The menubar interface consists of a list of your friends to chat with, your messages inbox, and recent notifications.[avocado-gallery ids=”301759,301758,301761,301762,301763″]

I’ve been using the app for the last couple of weeks, and it has earned a permanent spot in my menubar. I find Current most useful for seeing incoming notifications via Notification Center and managing individual message threads. Kyle built a custom JavaScript interface for chat windows that harkens back to Adium and other classic AIM clients.

“I was constantly bothered by the limitations of using Facebook in a web browser, and I knew I could improve upon that”

“I decided to build it [Current] because I was constantly bothered by the limitations of using Facebook in a web browser, and I knew I could improve upon that,” explained Kyle to Cult of Mac. “It was quite a challenge because I needed to acquire a deep understanding of how the Facebook website worked, and how I could extend it to do things like opening chat conversations in their own windows. I had to create lots additional functionality on top of a regular web browser to support projecting content into many different kinds of windows.”

Some of those custom windows include native pop-up windows for photo browsing and video playback. After trying Current, it’s clear that the app is meant to make Facebook a true desktop experience. Clicking notifications takes you to either a dedicated window, or an in-app web view of Kyle contemplated hiding ads in the News Feed, but understandably didn’t want to “risk Facebook’s wrath.”

At only $1.99 in the Mac App Store, Current is an easy impulse buy. If you’re a Facebook user who spends a lot of time on the Mac, check it out.

Update: Corrected that web chat interface is built on JavaScript, not Java.