The embargo surrounding Facebook Home – Facebook’s latest string of applications, available only on Android devices – was lifted yesterday. Facebook Home is far more than a traditional application: it combines a custom lockscreen, launcher, and messaging system in an ecosystem tied extensively to Facebook and its own services.
Facebook Home is ambitious: while companies like Amazon opted to fork Android completely, Facebook has instead decided to build on the available APIs and structures in order to change the experience that the user encounters. Home will be available not just on the HTC First, but also on any and all supported Android devices (a full list of which isn’t available, though expect popular devices like the Samsung Galaxy S III to make the cut). Writing for Engadget, Brad Molen had the following to say about Facebook Home:
Facebook Home isn’t perfect, nor will it convince many non-Facebookers to start Liking and commenting with reckless abandon. But it’s aesthetically pleasing, and surprisingly polished for a 1.0 product. Besides, if you download it onto an existing phone through the Play Store, it’s free to use and easily removable, which might give the software broad appeal from the get-go.
Molen goes on to say that Home isn’t “the best fit” for people with productivity on their minds, and is therefore more suited to users who utilize their phone more as a social outlet than anything else. Similarly, Dieter Bohn of The Verge finds that Home is useful, but only to a certain set of people:
I don’t know if Facebook will reach its target audience with Facebook Home. Although Chat Heads are great, the Home experience itself simplifies app management to a fault. I fully recognize that most people don’t give their homescreens much thought and don’t invest much time in customization, so it’s entirely possible that I’m off the mark and there’s enough functionality here for casual smartphone users — but I don’t think I am.
That said, I find it very telling that even this infrequent Facebook user found himself interacting with status updates instead of doing other stuff on my phone — Home radically increased my Facebook usage.
It will be interesting to see if Home begins to take off. Will you install Facebook Home on your Android device, if it is supported?