‘Home’ App Makes Facebook Center of Some Android Phones

| Analysis

Facebook offered up its big reveal on Thursday, taking the wraps off of "Home," a new Facebook app for Android. Or, at least some android devices. Home puts Facebook services front and center by taking over your home and lock screens and giving you quick access to status updates and messages from your Facebook friends. (See the Facebook Home promo video at the bottom of the article.)

Facebook Home on Android

Facebook Home Taking Over Your Lock Screen

"We designed Home to be the next version of Facebook," the company said in a statement. "But we also wanted to do something more. We wanted to reimagine the way we all use computing devices to make us more connected and bring us closer to the people we care about."

The aim of the software is to approach your smartphone not through a series of disparate apps. Facebook believes that rather than approaching things in an app-centric manner, it would be better if your smartphone was based around your friends.

"From the moment you wake up your phone you become immersed in cover feed," the company said. Cover feed is a different way to see your status updates that allows you to tap through to read more when you want to.

Home also features "Chat Heads" that pop up when your friends text you or send you a Facebook message. Chat heads appear no matter what you're doing on your device. The image below shows an incoming Chat Head when you're messing about in Instagram.

Facebook Home Chat Heads

Chat Heads

"You can move chat heads around and respond to messages," the company said. "And since SMS is integrated into Facebook Messenger for Android, chat heads include Facebook messages as well as texts."

The company announced the product exclusively for Android. Android's more open architecture allows for apps to take over your home screen and your lock screen, whereas Apple retains exclusive control over both screens. Under existing paradigms, Facebook would never be allowed to reimagine the way an iPhone (or iPad) is arranged or organized, making Android the only platform for Home.

We mentioned that Home works on only some Android devices. More specifically, Home will support HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung GALAXY S3, and Samsung GALAXY Note II when it is released for free on Google Play on April 12th. The company said it will also work on HTC One and Galaxy S4 when they are released, "and on more devices in the coming months."

In general, it has proven a foolish move to bet against Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. It remains to be seen, however, if Home represents a step forward that Facebook users want and will embrace.

It seems more likely that Home is an effort at wish fulfillment on the part of Facebook. Sure, some Facebook users will use it, but we simply don't see Home reshaping the smartphone landscape.

 

 

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Comments

Lee Dronick

Home also features “Chat Heads” that pop up when your friends text you or send you a Facebook message. Chat heads appear no matter what you’re doing on your device.

Just what I need. /eye_roll

d'monder

“Chat heads appear no matter what you’re doing on your device.”

Dead on arrival.  NO way to turn this off?

What Lee said… just what I need. raspberry Imagine trying to get something pressing done, and these chatting heads keep popping up.  Yes, they’re my “friends”, but can’t they wait for even a couple of minutes?

Sounds like the return of Clippy.  Only worse.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

If you’ve ever used Android and replaced a home screen (millions of people have), you’d know that all you have to do is choose another home and launcher from Google Play. That’s what being open is all about. This Facebook thing is way better than the Sense crap that HTC peddles or the Touchwhiz crap Sammie includes. Facebook Home is just a collection of apps that behave like regular Android apps.

ibuck

I hope the big Zuck is wrong because I’m not a big fan of Facebook or texting. And I suspect the latter makes one stupid because 1) when you do, you’re not present, 2) because so much of communication is in tone, pitch and inflection, and 3) it’s often done while driving.

And an honest response to “What R U doing?” might well be:

I’m at dinner with three friends. Rather than chatting and enjoying each other’s company, we are each focused on our mobiles, perhaps texting someone who is with other friends focused on their mobiles.

Sad.

furbies

Is this another chance for FaceBook to perform some more data mining of our lives under the guise of being helpful ?

Bryan Chaffin

Certainly, furbies. Indeed, this way both Google and Facebook get to track your every move. Pretty cool!

Lee Dronick

Is this another chance for FaceBook to perform some more data mining of our lives under the guise of being helpful?

No doubt. However, note that this for Android and the app probably wouldn’t pass the walled garden test with Apple.

I’m at dinner with three friends. Rather than chatting and enjoying each other’s company, we are each focused on our mobiles, perhaps texting someone who is with other friends focused on their mobiles.

Basic etiquette is a dying breed along with spelling and grammar. LOL YOLO

 

Jamie

@furbies - yes.

My favorite utterance from this debacle thus far (and I paraphrase): ‘Ads are just another kind of content.’.

DOA, indeed. raspberry

Bryan Chaffin

Home will not be coming to iOS until and if Apple allows apps to take over the home screen and lock screen. It was specifically announced as Android-only.

Lee Dronick

Certainly, furbies. Indeed, this way both Google and Facebook get to track your every move. Pretty cool!

On the plus side I might be able to get some good prices for Androgel smile

skipaq

Thankfully, this home takeover will never be on an iPhone. Maybe droid users don’t do much online because they know they are being watched wink

Bryan Chaffin

I think few people care about the tracking. I’ve had far too many people look at me like I’m a loon when I discuss my concerns with the issue, especially younger folks.

Paul Goodwin

A day in Home land:

Dad: Honey. I hate my new phone. All I see is Facebook. How do I get rid of it?
Mom: How would I know?
Dad: How do I make a call? Is Message in Facebook the same as the phone?
Mom: What does it do when you send a message?
Dad: It won’t let me. It says I don’t have any friends.
Dad: Where’s the phone part of this thing? All I see is a news feed.
Mom: Just close that.
Dad: How? When I hit the home button, it goes to Facebook.
Mom: Why did you buy that? You said you were going to get an iPhone like mine because you liked it.
Dad: The salesman told me it was going to be the next greatest thing.

 

Lee Dronick

See today’s Joy of Tech Comic http://tapastic.com/episode/3309

Eolake Stobblehouse

“but we simply don’t see Home reshaping the smartphone landscape.”

I friggin’ hope not. This is Kafka/Orwell land. Facebook owning and monetizing and controlling everybody’s social life? Give my strychnine any day.

http://eolake.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/facebook-home-is-that-feature-or-threat.html

Paul Goodwin

PT Barnum was right. There is a sucker brn every minute.

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