LinkedIn simplifies with a new mobile app for iOS and Android

A fresh look is overdue but welcome and includes a new private message communication feature to reach out to contacts in your professional network.

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It's been a long time in coming but the wait is over. LinkedIn's new mobile app is freely available for Apple iOS and Google Android phones.

With half of the platform's engagement coming from mobile devices, the updated app is long overdue. For too long, the vast amount of LinkedIn information on mobiles has been cluttered and noisy, for lack of a better word.

The new app simplifies with a very Facebook-like look, including five separate tabbed areas for easier navigation: Home, Me, Messages, My Network and Search.

LinkedIn says the search feature is now 300 percent quicker and some results will appear before you even finish typing your search terms.

You can also link your calendar with the app and it will show you professional information for any LinkedIn contacts attending.

The Messages part is new to LinkedIn as it tries to compete with other communications apps and services.

The idea here is that instead of bombarding contacts with more email through LinkedIn, direct messages may stand out more and offer a faster turnaround for conversations about jobs, skills and opportunities.

It "abandons email in favor of a more casual way to stay in touch, allowing you to initiate quicker conversations in a lighter-weight interface. This makes it easy for you to ping someone in your network on a quick question or continue a conversation as you would in real-life."

My brief look at the new app shows that it makes much better use of the small screen on a handset and lets you focus quicker on information from contacts in your network.

LinkedIn on the mobile web has a similar look and feel and, unfortunately for some, that's the only way they'll get to experience the update: LinkedIn isn't making the app available for either Windows or BlackBerry phones at this time, although the old version can still be downloaded for those platforms.