It's been three and a half years since Angry Birds was first released and you thought it was finally over. You disconnected your internet, set up your shack in the woods, and you're living off the land without ties to the metal world. It's over, right? There are no more birds to be flung. They can't touch you here. At last, you can relax, send a carrier pigeon to the two friends who still talk to you and invite them over for a tree bark barbecue.
When most of us think about Facebook, open source software probably isn't the first thing that jumps to mind. As it turns out, the social media titan has quite a few public contributions that we rarely hear about. Since Facebook went native, Android development has become a high priority within the company.
Shortly before the Facebook Home launch, some users noticed a new version of Facebook was available on their device, but it wasn't through the Play Store. Instead, the update came directly through the app, bypassing the Store altogether. Naturally, there was outrage, people were angry, felt violated, and whatnot. For Facebook, however, this was a way of getting a beta version of its app out to some users without having to give it to all users.
Facebook has been on a real push to take over users' phones as of late, with Facebook Home, Chat Heads, and updates to its official and Messenger apps. Today, it goes a step further, offering full, free voice calls to US users. This is the same feature that rolled out to Canadian users late last month.
The service requires Facebook Messenger to be installed (naturally) – to initiate a call, simply head into your contact list, open a message, and hit the "I" in the top-right corner.
Facebook did a soft launch of its new Home launcher late last week, which left a lot of its international users out in the cold. Good news: if you've been dying to get your hands on Home, it's now available outside of the US. Of course, device restrictions still apply, as the app is only available on a handful of handsets right now:
- HTC One X
- HTC One X+
- HTC One
- Samsung Galaxy S III
- Samsung Galaxy Note II
- Samsung Galaxy S 4
And if you like what it has to offer but aren't necessarily sold on using it full time, there's an easy way to keep all of Home's functionality without sacrificing your existing launcher.
When I went hands-on with Facebook's new launcher a few days ago, I stepped away pleased with the overall experience, but felt that it lacked a lot of the features a power user (or even a regular user who does stuff) would like. Still, I found the "lock screen" functionality to be a very pleasant experience – turning my phone on to nothing more than a scrolling photo and the time is very minimal and relaxing.
Facebook Home has arrived, and whether we like it or not, it's here to stay. The 2.5/5.0 rating at the close of the day isn't exactly inspiring, but it's likely a knee-jerk reaction from Facebook haters, which I am confident will go up to somewhere in the 3.X range with further improvements. Cameron addressed the current state of Home pretty well earlier today, so now that the dust has settled, it's time for a fun video to finish off the work week, both for Facebook employees who worked on the product and us, its potential (but unlikely) users.
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.