How much Facebook is too much Facebook?
For Mark Zuckerberg, there's no such thing. The social network's founder and CEO wants Facebook to be an extension of your life, something you don't even think about. Facebook Home, a new launcher for Android phones that turns your home screen into a giant Facebook News Feed, brings your friends to the forefront of your smartphone. Their lives are the first thing you see when you glance at your home screen.
"The home screen is really the soul of your phone," Zuckerberg said at the launch event. "You look at it about 100 times a day. It sets the tone of your whole experience."
Facebook Home is available April 12 as a free download in the Google Play Store. We used the launcher on the only phone designed with Facebook Home out of the box, the new HTC First, which offers a slightly different experience than using Facebook Home on another Android device.
Welcome to Home
Facebook Home beckons you to sign on as soon as your phone powers to life. Enter your e-mail address and password and slip inside the world Facebook (with a little help from you and your friends) has created.
Immediately after logging in, my friends' recent updates begin sliding across the screen: a shot from a vacation in Mexico, a wedding album, a news article. This continuous carousel of your friends' lives is called Cover Feed. Cover Feed is essentially a screensaver of status updates and photos that lets you interact with Facebook without doing any work. Tapping a friend's photo displays their entire status update and stops the carousel mid-rotation. You can comment on or like a status or photo directly from Cover Feed without being kicked into the Facebook app. Cover Feed is visually magnificent, even if your friends' Instagram photos are not. If your friends are mostly professional photographers, however, Cover Feed is probably brilliant.
So far, the promoted posts I regularly see in my own News Feed when using Facebook on a desktop are (thankfully) missing from Cover Feed, but Zuckerberg indicated that ads and sponsored posts will be included in future versions of Facebook Home. (To which I say: Boo.)
Notifications from your other apps pop up in Cover Feed if you have the HTC First, which is convenient--no need to swipe down to view the notification bar. If you're using Facebook Home on another Android device, only your Facebook notifications will pop up in the Cover Feed. We'll test other phones to see how they handle non-Facebook notices once the app goes live in the Google Play Store on Friday.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.