The Facebook phone is here. Okay, technically, it’s not a phone. It’s Facebook Home – an ecosystem that is taken over by the social media giant.
The first thing about Facebook Home is who can get it. You can download Facebook Home if you are running Google’s Android operating system on the HTC One, One X and One X Plus, and Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note 2. The Galaxy S 4 will run Home when it’s released in the coming weeks. Facebook has no immediate plans to bring Home to the iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry or Windows devices.
You can also buy the new HTC First – which is optimized to run the Home interface. Cost is $99 with a contract.
So is Facebook Home any good? The answer is ‘Yes’ and ‘No’.
The good: At its core, Facebook Home pushes aside apps in exchange for emphasizing a user’s Facebook friends. It does a marvelous of immersing the smartphone in the world of Facebook. One reviewer called it ‘Facebook on steroids’ – and that pretty much hits it on the head.
Thus, if you love Facebook, you’ll probably love Facebook Home. Home’s Cover Feed feature constantly pushes you the information on your Facebook page right to your phone. You’ll get a stream of images posted by friends, as well updates on their status. There are no ads yet, but expect them later. Cover Feed makes it easy for you to pause the stream of information, and interact with your friends.
It’s all nicely done – clean, quick and efficient.
The other new feature of Facebook Home is Chat Head. This enables a user to chat with friends no matter what they are doing on their device. Thus a user could be reading email, surfing the web or playing a game, and a chat bubble will show up on the side with the profile picture of the person you are chatting with. It’s well done.
Again, if you like Facebook, this probably all sounds great.
The not so good about Facebook Home? It’s all about Facebook! As silly as that sounds, it’s the main issue people won’t want Facebook Home. They don’t want notifications and messages bombarding their screen. They don’t want to have to swipe two and three times to get to an app.
Facebook has done a nice job with Facebook Home. Facebook says that Home is about friends – not tasks and apps. They stay true to that. People who love Facebook will love it. If it’s not that big of a deal to someone, then they will pass. It’s pretty simple.
Alex has written for Vanity Fair, Barrons, Bloomberg and Condé Nast Traveler.