Facebook Home was released to some pretty polarizing reviews. Going by the number of low Google Play reviews alone (almost 50% of them giving FB Home just a single star), it’s probably all too easy to write this one off.
Nevertheless, it’s no harm trying, is there? Let’s lay out the scenario. Home is not yet officially available for Sri Lanka on Play Store. ReadMe was sent a copy of Home by Facebook for review purposes. In order to see how smooth it is, we ran it on two phones – a rooted Galaxy S and a stock Galaxy S3. Here’s what we think.
For starters, it’s a launcher. A very pretty one. It’s not a radical new app that revolutionizes our Facebook interactions – it’s basically the Facebook app turned into a launcher for your Android device. Install it, and it’ll bring Facebook into a much more prominent position in your phone. It’s very compelling at first.
The first thing you’ll notice after installing it is the home screen. Your homescreen, quite literally, turns into your newsfeed. Every new update that hits your Facebook feed will turn up on your phone, arrayed one by one in a very nice and dynamic-looking swipe-for–the-next-item format. This feature, which is one of the app’s most powerful features, is also one of its biggest drawbacks.
A lot of reviews state that the reviewers eventually ditched Facebook Home and went back to the Facebook App. The reason being that this swipe format shows only one newsfeed item at a time: no matter how pretty it is, if you have a busy feed you’re going to get sick of swiping pretty fast. On the other hand, if you’re like me – I have a limited number of friends and only a moderately active Facebook feed – you’ll find this a pretty handy way to keep an eye on your Facebook.
Along with this swipe-formatted newsfeed/home, you have your profile picture – you’ll be dragging this around to do different things like viewing your apps, opening your messenger, etc. Honestly, I find dragging my face around a screen to be stupid. Once you get past the homescreen, it’s pretty much the Android we know and love – there’s very few visible changes to be seen. Facebook alerts show up on your pull-down bar. Big deal: the Facebook app’s been doing that for quite a while.
Messaging takes on a new vibe with the advent of “chatheads”- tiny bubbles with the profile pictures of people you’ve been chatting to. You can bring these up anytime and resume your conversation with all the functionality of Facebook – including sharing photos and stuff. It’s a neat touch.
It’s like using any new launcher – interesting at first, slightly boring the next day. It is at this point that you decide whether to keep it or not. Facebook Home lagged very badly on our rooted S1 – so that went back to Holo Launcher in a hurry. On the S3, it hung around for a few more hours before making the cut. It’s a love-it-or-leave-it thing and depends heavily on how you communicate. We’re more Tweeps than Facebookers, and spend a lot of our time on websites or answering emails: we found this launcher less than ideal for that kind of workflow. If you live on Facebook – if most of your communication is done entirely through Facebook – you might actually find this useful.
Home for Android is (no longer) available for download from the Google Play Store in selected countries on certain devices, including the HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S3 and Samsung Galaxy Note II. Stay tuned on Twitter @readmelk and we will notify you as soon as it hits Sri Lanka.
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