Facebook stops syncing contacts on Android phones, BlackBerry 10 still best for communications

For efficient and reliable communications, nothing beats a BlackBerry 10 OS device. Android and iOS Facebook contact syncing has issues.

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I've always said that BlackBerry OS 10 is the best mobile platform for communications and it turns out that some recent experiences confirm that is still the case today even with the latest and greatest smartphones.

My cousin texted me a couple of days ago asking if I could help fix a new issue with his Samsung Galaxy S6. All of his Facebook contacts were now missing from the contacts application. After testing various Android phones I found it wasn't working for me either. It turns out that Facebook disabled contact syncing sometime over the past two months.

Android issues

I always setup my Exchange, Gmail, and Facebook accounts for syncing contact data on my various devices. I rely on my Exchange and Google accounts for my contact list, but like when Facebook profile images and other missing data is filled in by Facebook. Facebook sync also lets me find friends who I don't have in my regular contact list.

If you now go into the Facebook settings on Android you will find that the Sync Now option is grayed out and no longer an option. I searched in my contact list for contacts I know are only in Facebook and they no longer appear.

Facebook support officially confirmed this change and a number of websites and forums have also confirmed the removal. Facebook stated, "Unfortunately, this feature is no longer available. If you would like to provide feedback to the product team about this, please visit our Help Center."

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There have been many suggestions about workarounds, such as installing older versions of the Facebook app, but in the end it looks like all methods eventually fail and Facebook contact sync can no longer be used.

You can go into the Facebook app, search for a particular person, and then find their contact information on the About page, but that it a tedious exercise. Hopefully, Facebook flips the switch back to provide this support, but if it has been two months without an update so I wouldn't be too hopeful.

iOS issues

I have never had great experiences with iOS Contacts, primarily because of a lack of consistency in performance. There is still a Contacts sync toggle in the Facebook settings and you can filter your contacts by group, including Facebook, in the Contacts application. However, iOS seems to have a random selection process for which contacts appear from Facebook. I am missing a ton in the iOS Contacts app while there are about 30 present when I filter to just Facebook.

There is also an option at the bottom of the Facebook settings to sync Facebook photos to your contact list, but again I only see that work for some contacts. I discovered the Sync.Me app a couple years ago and that does a much better job of syncing Facebook photos as contact photos.

So it appears that Facebook sync is still working for iOS, but it's as unreliable and inconsistent as it has always been.

Windows Phone issues and successes

Windows Phone has always had Facebook integration at the core of the OS. I am running Windows Phone 10 on my Lumia 830 and am experiencing issues now with Facebook in my contacts list. I also tested out Windows Phone 8 on an HTC M8 to check Facebook contact functionality.

On my Lumia 830 with Windows 10 I can see these Facebook only contacts in the People application, but when I tap on their name a blue screen (Facebook splash screen) appears and then I get kicked back out to the all applications screen. It appears Facebook contact syncing may be broken here as well, but I don't have the official version of Windows 10 Mobile on a Lumia 950 so this failure could be the result of a buggy OS at the moment. I would be interested in hearing from those with a Lumia 950.

On the HTC One M8, Facebook contacts sync works perfectly and all of my Facebook only contacts appear and are fully accessible. It seems Windows Phone 8 is a solid platform for Facebook contact sync, even with the same Facebook app as Windows Mobile 10. I have Facebook version 8.3.7 installed on both phones.

BlackBerry OS 10 successes

I recently picked up my third BlackBerry Passport and Facebook contact syncing works flawlessly. All the contact details, latest profile photo, recent Facebook updates, and recent activity are all viewable right from within the Contacts application on the BlackBerry Passport.

You can even start typing the name of the person at any time and quickly have their contact information appear in the universal search utility. BlackBerry 10 OS remains the clear winner when it comes to efficient communications and this Facebook sync issue is just one example.