'Home' App Makes Facebook Center of Some Android Phones

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.