12
Apr
facebookhome
Last Updated: April 15th, 2013

Hey! Facebook Home is here, and you can totally have it. So long as you have a compatible phone, of course. It just so happens that I have one such phone laying on my desk (an HTC One X+), so I figured I'd give this whole Facebook as your phone experience a shot. Been playing with it for around an hour or so when I started writing this, and it's... different. The experience is strange, and I find myself continuously hitting the home button in an attempt to escape this parallel universe and get back to the comfort of my "normal" launcher. Since I made Home my default as soon as I installed it (as a means to ensure I'd actually play with it), those attempts are in vain. But now I have a pretty good idea of what Home is all about (read: Facebook everywhere), how I'd use it (read: I wouldn't), and who might like it (read: probably not you).

Let's start with the homescreen, because that's where you'll likely spend most of your time with Home. In a nutshell, it's your Facebook feed, but instead of viewing it quickly and easily, it's spread across multiple different screens, if you will. It's kinda cool, but I can see how the novelty will wear off quickly. Very quickly. Like, after seven minutes. Maybe nine if you really like Facebook.

Screenshot_2013-04-12-13-48-14 Screenshot_2013-04-12-14-51-08 Screenshot_2013-04-12-14-51-14

Left: My sister being... herself; Middle: an AP update; Right: after long-pressing on said AP update

The way it handles content is a bit strange. The person's (or page's) profile picture shows in the top left in most cases, the rest of the screen is filled with whatever they shared – be it a status or an image. In the case of the former, the background becomes a scrolling image of the person's cover photo – long-pressing on it will zoom out to show the entire image. Similarly, if an image is shared, it just floats around in the background and must be long-pressed before you can see the entire image. It's all about the show, baby.

Screenshot_2013-04-12-14-09-04 Screenshot_2013-04-12-14-11-35

Left: an image in cover feed; Right: after long pressing on the image. Also CHILD FREAKING PREDATOR.

The lockscreen is, well, non-existent. You see cover feed the second you turn your phone on, though there's no text to be found (until you tap the screen). It's actually really clean and I quite enjoy it. If I could just have this as my lockscreen and return to the stock launcher with a tap of the home button, I'd dig it.

Screenshot_2013-04-12-14-04-53 Screenshot_2013-04-12-14-11-07

Honestly, that's basically the gist of Home. It's super simple. You can like and comment directly from the cover flow; be careful with that though – double tapping instantly "likes" whatever it is. I did it by accident no less than six times while writing this piece.

But there are settings! Since I'm using my X+ for this, a quick tap on the menu/multi-task button opens the settings menu, which reveals a few features – including an option to quickly and easily disable Facebook Home. If you look directly below that, you'll see something that should please the eye: a "show status bar" checkbox! I read a lot of comments from concerned users about missing other notifications because Home takes up the entire screen, so I'm sure this is a welcome option. If you elect to hide the status bar, however, it can be revealed with a swipe down from the top of the screen. Handy. You can also disable the non-lock lockscreen from here. Past that, the options dive into other Facebook apps' settings, like Messenger and the FB app itself. You're probably already familiar with those.

Screenshot_2013-04-12-13-18-14 Screenshot_2013-04-12-16-10-15

Left: the settings menu; Right: Cover feed with the status bar shown

And we can't forget about Chat Heads – this may actually be my favorite part about Home (well, actually, it's a part of FB Messenger). For those who haven't heard of Chat Heads (who are you people, and why are you here?), they're basically little popup notifications that float on your screen, allowing you to quickly and seamlessly pop in and out of Facebook chat without leaving the current foreground application, whatever it may be. It also works with SMS messages and allows you to easily switch between SMS and FB messenger, so everything is unified in one location. I like that. To dismiss a Chat Head, just long-press on it and drag (or fling) it down to the X.

Screenshot_2013-04-12-15-12-12 Screenshot_2013-04-12-15-15-21 Screenshot_2013-04-12-15-16-58

Left: An SMS with myself; Middle: My floating face on top of Chrome; Right: Dragging my wife and son to the X. I'll miss them.

Of course, you (hopefully) have other apps that you like to use, too. That's where Facebook Home really... sucks. Seriously – the app tray is a disaster. You can get into the tray one of two ways: either hit the home button, or long-press on your head at the bottom and drag it up. Yes, you must drag your own face across the glass to get to your apps. It's slightly masochistic. There are also two other locations that can be accessed via the head-drag method: Messenger (to the left), and the most recently opened app (to the right).

As soon as you open the tray, you're presented with a dashboard of sorts, where you can put your favorite apps. The area was already populated with the apps from my formerly-stock launcher's homescreen, as well as Facebook and Messenger. Above this area are direct portals to updating your status, uploading a photo, or checking in, all of which launch the stock Facebook app.

To get to the rest of your apps, a flick to the right is necessary. But you won't find the wonderful paginated style of app tray that we've all gotten so used to. Oh no. It's back to the Gingerbread days for this one – it's just a big ol' vertical list. And I hate it. Long-pressing on apps allows you to move them into your favorites area, so if you just use a few key apps you shouldn't have to access this God-awful abomination of an app list very often.

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And that's pretty much it. It's a simple "launcher" (I'm having a hard time calling this a real launcher – it's definitely about Facebook and not much else). If you're a social junkie who spends roughly 10 hours (give or take) on Facebook daily, you'd probably find use in Home. Also, you probably don't read this site.

I read some cases on Twitter where users were having trouble uninstalling Home. You must have Facebook and Messenger installed before you can remove Home from your device. Stupid, I know.

I'll be getting my hands on the HTC First in the coming days, so expect a full review and more in-depth look at Facebook Home soon. In the meantime, if you have questions or things you'd like to see in the full review, feel free to drop them in the comments section below.

If you'd like to give Home a shot – and honestly, if you use Facebook at all, you probably should just for its uniqueness – you'll find it at the link below. Keep in mind, though, it's only available for a handful of devices at the moment.

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, and musician. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6- or 7-string, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502539242 Mike Shaw

    not compatible for the N4 booooo!

    • NexusKoolaid

      Yeah, shame on them for not offering what I don't want.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502539242 Mike Shaw

        I would like to mess around with it but not a DD

  • Angel Penabad

    Best title for a review ever. LOL

  • northstar

    Dont like vertical app drawers. eh?
    Well its the main reason I use a custom launcher. One fling >. multiple swipes.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      To each his own. I find it much easier to find what I'm looking for with a paginated app drawer.

      • mechapathy

        Yes. "This app is on page x" is much more consistent than "this app requires fling speed x over distance y."

        • Pete Pan

          Rubbish. A few vertical scrolling pages with apps like games, settings frequent, etc. Very easy to find and no clutter. No need for a billion flings.

          • mechapathy

            I can't tell if you just disagreed or agreed with me.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

            lol

      • Sergio

        Dream everyday with a tab with app groups built into the stock app drawer...

  • EMullins

    It's brutally honest titles like these that keep me coming back to Android Police instead of reading shill sites like Android Central.

    • Stephen Zipprich

      Amen to that.

    • Bleakvision

      Their podcast is the worst. No matter what the worries of the readers are about a certain device their response is always "Don't worry, it's fine".

    • Jesus Urrabieta

      "The Perfect Tool For Those Who Don't Actually Do Anything With Their Phones"
      That's not honest. It's an honest opinion. But it isn't the truth.
      You don't need me to tell you that someone that chats with his Facebook friends is "doing something" with his/her phone. Unless you are of that superior kind that can establish what uses are OK for a phone and those other that are "not OK or cool"...

      If I remember correctly phones were created to communicate with each other so I can't share the point in the title. And less can I agree with it.

      • Andrew Poretz

        I think he means ".... Other Than Facebook"

        • jurrabi

          It's still a false title since, obviously, with FBH you can do all sorts of things with the phone ;)

  • nsnsmj

    Nice read. The title is the truth. Home is just way too simple, to a detriment. The best thing about it is Chat Heads (such a stupid name), and apparently that's part of Messenger now, so Home just isn't needed.

    Also, I haven't tried this myself, but this app codekiem.com/2013/02/13/market-helper/ might allow you to download Facebook Home. Make sure you follow the instructions. They're simple.

    • Loren Cogar

      It does not work, you have to do a build.prop edit to make it work as Facebook Home checks your device even after it is installed.

  • HotInEER

    Installed it, played it, uninstalled it. Nothing to see here people, move along.

    • New_Guy

      I unistalled it in about 5 minutes. Couple of pictures showed up on my background that were NSFW and I said screw that. Not getting fired over this second rate launcher.

  • alvin

    this should be on daydream but not home, which makes much more sense

    • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

      Good idea!

  • JonJJon

    So with all the controversies going around to do with lock screens and the never ending task of making lock screens more secure, Facebook Home comes along and makes a phone as easy to get into as turning the screen on? Unless you can keep your pattern/pin/password lock as well, in which case I stand corrected. :)

    • Jesus Urrabieta

      Not only you can, but there is no difference with the standar launcher there JonJJon.

      It is true that by default Facebook Home takes you directly to Home screen. But it's as easy as selecting Options and unchecking "See home when turning on screen" (sorry this is a free translation from my Spanish version of Home) and you are back to standar lock.

      I'm guessing that if you had some kind of lock password when Installing Facebook Home it would respect that and deactivate by default. But I wouldn't know since I only have standard slide to unlock.

      • JonJJon

        Ah ok, good to know, thanks for the insight :) Facebook Home isn't my thing but good to know they aren't dumbing down security in favour of easy access to a post.

  • Adrian

    "You can also disable the non-lock lockscreen from here"
    Did you mean "non-home lockscreen"

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      wat

    • selonmoi

      Don't think so. Lockscreens normally allow you to, you know, lock your phone so other people can't use it.

  • Bryan L
  • John Rose

    So glad it's not compatible with my GN!

  • Ugalde97
  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.goldschmidt Lee Goldschmidt

    Stuff like this always gets a lot of heat and hate the first few weeks, but then people get used to the idea and start to find a use for it. Have had it on since it's release on my Note 2 and it's not that bad. I don't use Facebook as much as some people, and I use it more than some others, but after getting over the learning curve I'm kinda liking it. Being subscribed to all of my favorite news and android pages on Facebook means I don't just see my friends on the home screen, but important news as well. Chat heads are definitely a win for Facebook, as I am now using them instead of Sliding Messaging. Other than that, I'm enjoying it and accessing my favorite apps is easier than it was on Nova, with just a swipe instead of frisking through my folders. Plus now I can swipe away Facebook notifications and have them disappear from the website as well, saving me time.

    Its not as pretty or smooth or as as customizable as Nova, but I'm still enjoying it so far. I'll probably be switching between them for a while.

    • Jesus Urrabieta

      I never thought of Facebook as a source for info... That can be useful too.

      Have to give that a try.

      See there? Facebook is getting what they want. Me using it for more things...

      Where is Google+/Twitter Home?

  • GS3 User

    its not available to download in the UK! does anyone knows when it would be available?

    • Oh dear

      As soon as you learn English.

      • New_Guy

        Zing!

  • squiddy20

    "Yes, you must drag your own face across the glass to get to your apps. It's slightly masochistic." Funniest part of the article in my opinion :D

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=614282502 Ethan Goldberg

    Installed it and messed with it for 5 minutes. Totally useless and uninstalled it.

  • enoch861

    Installed it and tried using it for the rest of the day. Didn't work. Had it on for maybe 5 or so hours. Uninstalled it. I liked how clean and simple it was though.
    Those chat heads are amazing though! Believe it or not I set Messenger as my main SMS client. The thought of replying to messages in an elegant way without leaving the current app is simply awesome.

    • Jesus Urrabieta

      And why go to full uninstall? I mean, if you liked the clean and simple look (I do too) why not keep it for sporadic use?

  • Samvith V Rao

    Hilarious review, Cameron - the screenshots, the captions, everything. Good job!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Thanks. I had too much fun writing this one.

  • http://thedangerbrain.com/ Alfonso Surroca

    This is essentially the same as the Facebook screensaver for vanilla webOS on the HP TouchPad, except worse. I actually liked the screensaver.

    • Jesus Urrabieta

      Worse how? can you elaborate or are you simply another Facebook hater that trashes anything they do?

  • Maff Mace

    You mention you like the "lock" bit but not the launcher, I installed home on my Nexus 4 last night, hated it, set my normal launcher back as default bit didn't uninstall FB Home, the "lock" bit (clean photos, no lock screen) stayed, I just pressed my home button to go back to my normal launcher

    • Jesus Urrabieta

      That might be a nice compromise.

      If only my friends knew that not everything is interesting to all of their friends and kept my wall interesting to me... I would like that option.
      But I'm not interested in childhood photos of my co-workers, or to know that my sister loves cakes and shares any single picture of an artistic cake she finds...

    • Jesus Urrabieta

      Just tested it. Nice... thanks for the tip.

  • http://www.facebook.com/L0GAReTM Abdelrahman Adel Awad

    Great title

  • shri…

    K... Doesn't support HTC One X... Great..!!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      It should. Is your device stock?

      • shri…

        Yep.. So do I have to root..??

        • Jesus Urrabieta

          No, but why you care? aren't you happy you can't use it?

          I'm confused. ;)

          You probably have (as I do) a country lock.

          I tried it downloading it and installing it not from the play store (if you are willing to take the risk). But I do confirm it works on One X

    • Jesus Urrabieta

      In fact it does...

  • Taylor LaBrier

    I installed Home on my Note II with the intention of trying it out for the whole weekend. After about five hours, I realized how insanely difficult it was to get to the myriad of apps that I use. On top of that, I was much less productive because I would turn on my phone to do something and get distracted by a full screen of updates, notifications, and chat heads, rather than a few innocuous icons in my notification bar. I'd see a comment on one of my statuses and tap it to see what it said. Then, I figured that since I had already viewed the notification, I might as well go ahead and respond while I'm thinking about it, otherwise I won't remember to later. By the time I was done with that, I had wasted about a minute and a half doing something totally different than what I got my phone out to do. The title of this article alone sums up my opinion of this app. Great read, Cameron!

  • Jesus Urrabieta

    I'm really tired of reading this biased reviews. Ok, I get it. Facebook is not your thing. But can you test with open mind?

    You can't download a launcher app from Facebook and complain that it puts facebook in the center of everything. It's like downloading an English-Spanish dictionary app and complain because all it does is translating words...

    The part about the access to aps it's really anoying for me. You can get to your favorite aps in several EASY ways (no pain for me):

    Option 1: After turning ON phone just press home. Fav apps list appears. It's even faster that usual ON, unlock, home...

    Option 2: After ON drag your face up. Voila! No "long-press" needed as you stated.

    And the full app list is hideous because it's vertical scroll? :O So horizontal scroll is fine, but vertical is hideous... I guess you trashed every android phone until 3.0 right?

    Please man, it's just making excuses to trash the effort.

    In my opinion Facebook home is a bold attempt to think "out of the box". It does what they wanted: "It puts facebook in the center".

    I specially love the "Chat Heads" although I can't make them work, but the idea is great.

    Is it for everybody? Oh hell NO! If your life doesn't revolve around sharing your life and lurking into other's, this is not for you as the Facebook app itself.

    But the things I see people complain are not issues per se:

    You don't see the status bar? You can swap it down or check a flag to have it always on: No ISSUE
    You don't like the fact that as soon as you turn the screen ON personal info/pictures is showing? You can deactivate that and have your lock screen back...

    It's not for me. NO. I don't like Facebook.... But I think it's perfect for some people and just a perfect tool (that for sure will evolve) for Facebook nuts.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      I see you have a lot to say. That's cool, but next time you should probably be more informed (or at least read the post throughly) before you comment. If you want dry posts where the writer injects absolutely no personal opinions or actual experiences with the app or device in question, there are plenty of other Android sites out there that should readily fill that for you.

      • Jesus Urrabieta

        I'm not saying that I want no opinions... if fact I always read you.

        My response was probably to passionate and was putting into you the many things I've read this past days about Home that trashed it without recognizing at least the bold attempt. Aren't you tired of launchers that are just icon/widget organizers focussing just on visuals?

        This one at least had a different focus...

        That was my point, but I guess I went over board.

        Do you wanna know something funny? I think you are comming around too...

        In your todays post you say in your first attempt you found the experience pleasing... but I can't get that idea reading this... ;)

  • shawn

    Facebook home is horrendous and chat heads inventor should be raped by a rhino