Facebook recently unveiled its social-centric Home software for the Android ecosystem, with Mark Zuckerberg promising to turn smartphones into devices that are “all about people” instead of apps. According to the social network’s co-founder and CEO, they went deep into the Android OS in order to integrate key Facebook features and, from initial looks, that really seems to be the case.
If you want to evaluate Facebook Home, you would have to think hard about who it’s for. It’s for people who spend a considerable chunk of their time immersed in their online social network, people who never want to be left out on the tiniest updates from even their most distant friends. Those are the people for whom this new piece of software is most beneficial. If you don’t really care all that much for Mark Zuckerberg’s multi-billion-dollar brainchild, then you can be content with the Facebook app on your Android device—if you use it at all.
What you can be sure of, though, is that it will greatly impact your Android experience if you do decide to download and install it. For starters, you have Cover Feed, which instantly transforms the lock screen into a compact news feed. Besides that, the whole point of Home is to shift your focus to Facebook’s services, and the app launcher that comes with it is substantially different from others. Simply put, it brings Facebook functionality (and related properties like Instagram) front and center.
Chat Heads is also a good point of integration, as it puts your text messages with your Facebook messages. In addition, some pundits say that VoIP service (read more) integration could also be added in the future, along with some other supplementary functions.
Refined Look and Feel
The minimalist UI of Facebook Home holds a lot of promise and oozes with beauty, not unlike the experience of simplicity one can enjoy through Path. The whole look is clean, although (as we’ll point out later) the look of the interface will depend largely on your Facebook friends and the content they publish.
You can move key elements around; it shouldn’t be too different from other launchers in that you can customize the interface to a certain extent so that you can become more comfortable with it and so Home can truly be an improvement on each person’s Android experience.
One area that might detract from the interface is the looming threat of ads. For sure, Facebook can serve them up in some creative way to be as unobtrusive as possible, but ads are still ads.
The Rest of the Android OS
There is no loss of functionality as far as the rest of the OS is concerned, although non-Facebook or non-social apps tend to get pushed to the side a bit. That’s the whole point of it being ‘designed around people’. In any case, Home looks like something that caters to the needs of the Facebook addict, that one who can’t stop clicking refresh on his news feed or who checks Facebook every chance he gets. There might even be enough promise in the design and functionality of the software, so much so that it can be useful even for those who aren’t so dependent on the social network.
As some have pointed out, Facebook Home is sure to get plenty of downloads off the Google Play store, simply because it’s Facebook. What’s more, users don’t really have anything to lose by trying out a new app that promises social integration. In case they don’t like Home for whatever reason, they can just as easily uninstall it and go back to their phones’ stock launcher or one of the old reliable third-party launchers. There’s no risk, so why not try it? Then, once you try it, you might get to like it.