I am not an avid Facebook user, but I am intrigued by the idea that a social network has created their own custom launcher that immerses you in their own services from the very second you turn the phone on. So when the opportunity presented itself for me to install this launcher on one of my Android devices, I jumped on board.
So I thought I would share a few screen shots and write a few words regarding my impressions and experiences with Facebook's new pride and joy. Also be sure to listen to Episode 41 of the iOSDocked podcast for a deeper discussion and perspective from a bunch of iPhone guys.
Facebook Home is clean, straight forward and minimal replacement launcher for your Android smartphone. If you are looking for customization, you are looking in the wrong place. I don't believe the target audience here is for the geek, the nerd or even the experienced smartphone user. No, I believe this launcher is for someone who lives in Facebook. They share experiences, they message friends, they browse family photos and they like to stay up to date on the happenings of those people who are a part of their lives. Facebook Home does that. It literally puts your Facebook world right in front of you. Where Facebook was the distraction, Facebook Home turns the table and is now the focus. I believe Facebook Home has set the tone for the future of social networking. For some, this is just too much. I happen to be one of those people. But for others? I believe it may provide exactly what the end user wants out of their phone.
Here is a rundown of the ingredients that make up the Facebook Home recipe. The lock screen/home screen is now a swipe-able and endless string of Facebook statuses placed on top of photos from the same user. Simply swipe from right to left to see more of your Facebook universe. Double tapping the screen "likes" the status. Holding on a photo removes the status and gives you a full view of the photo behind the status. In the bottom left of each status is a shortcut to "like" or comment. By holding the circle containing your own Facebook profile pic and moving upwards, you are presented with 3 options. On the left is Facebook Messages, in the middle is a shortcut to your installed applications in the form of a very basic app launcher and on the right is a shortcut to the last app you had open.
The other half of Facebook Home is the Messages app. With the addition of "Chat Heads", your conversations follow you wherever you are on the phone. As a conversation begins, you will see a small circle containing the profile pic of the person on the other end of the open conversation. You can simply tap the Chat Head to open the conversation view from wherever you are. You move the Chat Head out of your way by simply sliding it around the screen until you let it rest in a different less obtrusive place. Facebook Messages also wants to become your default SMS application and it will treat those messages the same way bringing your messages via text or Facebook into one unified experience.
Facebook Home is not perfect, nor is the concept. The experience can only be as good as your social skills allow it to be. If you don't have friends, Facebook Home won't be your friend either. But this is new territory for social networking as it is for mobile computing. I believe this is just the start of things to come for Facebook Home. I think we will see the whole Home experience expand in other ways and on other phones and platforms in the future. The name of this product is perfect for what it is. As Home represents the starting point for any journey whether it be life or the the launching point from which your smartphone experience begins. Home also represents the place where those you care most about find each other. And if that was the goal, mission accomplished.