In line with the leaks, Facebook made its launcher for Android official – it’s called the Facebook Home, and in the first photos, it looks rather good.
Facebook Home will replace your homescreen, and put a bunch of Facebook apps in a single app. Zuckerberg started off by saying they don’t have to fork Android to bring a richer Facebook experience to Android. In that, he killed the rumours doing the rounds that they’ll be forking, or at the very least, skinning Android. Now it’s just a launcher, which can be installed on phones running Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean and above.
To break it down, here’s what it’s about –
- Cover Feed – Unlock your phone, you’ll be greeted with status messages from your friends. It’s a News Feed, filling your entire screen. Photos, for example, show full screen. Notifications also show up here.
- Chat Heads – This is just Facebook Messenger. The app had gotten the ability to act as the default SMS app, and that’s what Chat Heads does – Facebook messages and SMSs, all in one place. If you use Facebook Messenger as the default SMS app, you know a bit of what to expect. It has been done nicer in Facebook Home, obviously.
- App Launcher (drawer) – Finally, it also will show you the apps you’ve installed on your device, not only Facebook apps.
Facebook Home will also modify your lockscreen, and you can have it show photos from your albums right on here. Some may like it, some may not. Depends on how concerned you are about privacy.
And oh, of course there will be ads in the Cover Feed. Facebook is going to provide this launcher for free, and they have to make up money in one way or the other. So yeah, nothing too bad about it, and seeing Facebook’s ads in the official app, I don’t mind it much. They’re, at the very least, not as ugly as ads you see in third party apps.
Overall, it looks pretty neat. However, initially, the data Facebook will get won’t be anonymized. That will happen after a while, according to Zuckerberg.
Facebook Home is going to be available for free on the Google Play Store starting April 12th. Five phones are supported, initially – HTC One, One X/One X+, Samsung Galaxy S3, Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 2. You’ll need to have Android 4.0 or above to be able to run this app.
Here’s a video demoing the app.