A few days ago, Facebook finally unveiled the mystery behind its press conference in which it was going to show off its new product, presumably related to Android. At last, although expected, the new product that hopes to establish Marc Zuckerberg’s empire is called Facebook Home: A “launcher” for smartphones that transforms your Android interface, deeply integrating Google’s operating system into the social network.
Starting April 12 (initially only in the U.S., and then later in Europe), you will be able to download from Google Play a packet of applications that will completely change the appearance of your Android menus once it is installed, giving Facebook the center stage. So, the first thing you see when you unlock your device is “Cover Feed,” which is the home feature that contains your wall and your updates from your friends. From there, you can jump around to the other sections that will appear on top of your everyday apps.
Initially, it will only be able to be downloaded on a limited array of devices, which are the HTC One, HTC One X, and the Samsung Galaxy family from the SIII and on. It will be compatible with more devices as new versions are launched. Additionally, there will be a version for tablets that will arrive in coming months.
Now, the good and the bad about the product. Obviously, it will be an absolute charm for those who actively use Facebook to communicate with and contact their friends. The new home is dynamic, and you’ll automatically see your friend’s updates in real time. Special emphasis will be given to those aspects that are more related to how you use a smartphone, such as checking in at a certain location, or reminding you of events that you are going to.
The not so good thing is that this heavy focus on social networking makes it more difficult to access the other apps you have installed on your Android, some of which are even replaced by services that Facebook performs, such as is the case with Facebook Messenger as the means for communication. In fact, to give an example of this integration, even the SMS messaging feature is integrated into Facebook Messenger. Even still, from your avatar you can access the rest of the programs that are installed on your device, in addition to your notifications.
The other aspect that with time will put Facebook Home in its place is that it may start incorporating personalized advertising to help finance itself. The conference confirmed that initially it won’t include advertising. Initially that is. It wouldn’t be surprising if not long from now we see, just as with the desktop, advertising updates scattered among those from our friends and family members. It’s best to not talk about the privacy and data that the app will collect in regards to your user habits, mostly because no information has been given about it.
To bolster the launch of Facebook’s new service, new devices that come with Facebook Home pre-installed will also go on sale. The first that will do so was just recently announced: The HTC First will start being sold the same day as when Facebook Home is launched – April 12. You can already preorder it, although initially only if you are living in the U.S..It will be offered with a contract on AT&T’s LTE network, and the price will start at $99, but will vary depending on the data plan you sign up for. Other companies are also interested in the venture, such as Orange, Sony, and Samsung, and will soon join the selection to choose from.
Ultimately, the famous social network has finally taken a step towards a business model more related to the becomings of the market in recent times. The usage statistics, both on Facebook and other services, indicate that smartphones are increasingly being used to access social networks, which means that this step could be even be a bit too late. Obviously, the leading motive and reason behind Facebook Home is to stand up to Google+, which is increasingly becoming a standard application, along with the rest of the family of products, in the Android universe. Time will tell if they will be able to rival the giant at Mountain View.