Overview of Facebook Home and how to install on Android

Facebook Home made a big splash late last month, but early indications show that users are [url=http://www.dazeinfo.com/2013/04/25/facebook-home-looses-ground-thanks-to-user-experience-study/]far from considering[/url] this a “revolution” despite smartphone users around the world [url=http://www.androidauthority.com/smartphone-users-spend-time-gaming-183698/]spending 18% of their time[/url] on Facebook.

Looking at the stats, we note that since launch on Google Play, the Facebook Home app has been downloaded more than half a million times and reviewed more than 15,000 times (and counting). So how many of these people are really satisfied? Looking at the reviews, Facebook Home has an average rating of 2.2 out of five. Most criticism focused on poor battery life and impact on mobile data allowances. These issues may or may not be fixed with the first update slated for the second week of May.

Many reviews focus on Facebook Home’s intrusiveness which subsumes everything under the Facebook name, taking over the entire phone, including existing apps, widgets and home screen. It’s basically 24/7 Facebook coverage which for many users is too much. For many others however, it has its appeal.

On the plus side, once the application is downloaded and installed, the home screen is quite similar to the Facebook News Feed and all status updates, messages, links and images are displayed in a stream format, which are easy to navigate and use. What’s more, Facebook Home incorporates Chat Heads, a function that can be used to answer messages without closing a running application.

Ostensibly it doesn’t impinge on app usage, but considering almost 80% of user activity on smartphones is on apps, the effect of Facebook Home is potentially huge. Just think about the power of local search and the amount of companies that have developed a mobile app to showcase their services to consumers. Facebook Home could be the vehicle these companies use in place of native apps to drive traffic to their websites.

How to install Facebook Home

Installing Facebook Home is easy if you have a compatible device (Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy Note II, HTC One X, HTC One X+ plus HTC First). Just go to [url=https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.facebook.home]Google Play[/url] and download the app.

If you want to try it out using another Android smartphone or tablet you can use a modified version of Facebook Home published by XDA Developers by following these steps:

  1. Uninstall all Facebook apps from your device (including Page Manager)
  2. Download the unofficial version of [url=http://d-h.st/qOz]Facebook Home[/url] and [url=http://d-h.st/8jn]Facebook Messenger[/url] then extract the .rar files
  3. Install the official Facebook app plus the Facebook Messenger app
  4. Enable Facebook Home under the Facebook app settings and reboot the device

The Cover Feed

Once downloaded, Facebook Home literally takes control of your device. Your home screen becomes a slideshow of your friends’ photos and updates. By tapping and swiping you can share, like, or reply to your friends on Facebook.

Everything you find on Facebook you get with Home, just in an even more shareable and omnipresent way, like a radio playing constantly in the background when you’re cleaning your apartment. Any Android notifications come via Facebook Home’s cover feed.


The Home Screen

To communicate with friends, just tap on your face on the screen and swipe it left to open Facebook Messenger. Swipe it right to open other apps or use the smartphone normally without the Home overlay.

At the moment, all photos are cropped to fit the smartphone screen so unless they actually fit the screen, you’ll need to scroll around to view the whole image, which slows down navigation.


Chat Heads

The Chat Heads feature shows all Facebook messages from your friends. You can reply to them even if you’re using a different application or even taking a photo. This is probably the best feature of Home and the fact that it can be downloaded even if you’re not using Home comes closest to multitasking.


Privacy problems

One of the big concerns on Facebook Home is privacy. Facebook has lowered the default privacy settings so even if your phone is locked, people can easily see your feed from the social network.
By default, you don’t need a password to interact with Facebook Home, so users that are uncomfortable with that will have to change their settings manually.

Different users, different behaviours

One recent [url=http://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/28/tech/mobile/survey-phones-facebook]survey[/url] shows that users check the social network 14 times a day. So there are a lot of people whose Internet interactions are almost entirely around Facebook. For this group of people, Facebook Home is a natural evolution of their web experience.
For others, Facebook Home may be too invasive, as it takes over their online life putting Facebook activities to the fore.

[b][i][End of part 1. Next up in part 2: Facebook vs Android and Google – Who wins][/i][/b]

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