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In an age where new phone applications fly at us faster than bugs at a windshield, app developers are working hard to stand apart from the crowd. On April 12th, Facebook upped the ante when it launched Facebook Home. As this app hits its one month anniversary, the important question is, Facebook Home: Boom or Bust?
What It Is
First off, watch this video:
Facebook Home provides fast access to Facebook from your mobile home screen. Some are calling it an app skin, while others think of it as an operating system.
Facebook Home includes four main features aimed to bring this social media giant to the forefront of your android phone:
- Constant cover feed, so you can see updates just by looking at your locked screen.
- Moveable Chat Heads, so you can continue the conversation in other apps.
- Improved Notifications that offer bolder updates on the home screen.
- An App Launcher that allows you to easily use Facebook while using other apps.
How It’s Great
Image via Flickr by seanmcgrath
Those who love instant news, friend updates, and pictures are the primary audience of this app. With 200 million Facebook app users already enjoying regular access on their mobile devices, this new launcher offers a continuous experience. Your news feed is on display even on your locked screen. So that picture of your principal jamming out to 80’s rock in his car will zoom to your Google Nexus phone.
Users who love constant contact with friends may enjoy the Chatheads feature. It provides fast access to buddy communication and allows users to move the Chatheads when using other apps. This property is so loved that it’s the first feature to make it to the iPhone. On April 16th, four days after the launch of Facebook Home for android phones, iPhone users gained access to Chatheads.
How It’s Not So Great
Image via Flickr by Lori L. Stalteri
One of the biggest complaints from users so far, is that it’s seems like one big distraction. Is it really necessary to be connected 24/7? Facebook seems to think so. Even the aforementioned video embraces the notion that while we are at work, we’ll instead be watching videos of friends cannonballing into pools or gazing at screaming goats. Many can’t help but wonder, “Why?”
With the backlash against Facebook’s lack of innovation and privacy concerns; many users are less than thrilled with the idea of a constant invasion of their home screen. This continuous feed is only as exciting as your Facebook friends make it. If your feed trends toward pictures of Aunt Betty’s meatloaf or your best friend’s constant boyfriend drama, the novelty of this app may quickly wear off for you.
So what’s missing from this app? If you want fast Chathead access to a list of your favorite friends, you will have to wait for the update that includes a dash bar with a buddy list. You will also have to wait for that in-app dock for your favorite apps. And if you have an iPhone, plans to launch a full version of Facebook home are uncertain at this time.
The verdict is still out on whether Facebook Home is the greatest addition to mobile devices since the touch screen, or just another attempt by a company looking to please its less-than-thrilled stockholders. For now the main benefit of Facebook Home falls to the innovators, since those who have downloaded this app now use Facebook 25% more than before.
Joseph Stark Jr. is a freelance writer and blogger by day, focusing on technology and travel. By night he is a tech junkie, gym member, and avid comic book enthusiast. He currently resides in Santiago, Chile with his cat Oscar.
Home for iPhone launches on App Store today