We’ve talked a bit about the new Facebook Home app on our podcast, but I’m the one with the Samsung Galaxy SIII so I get to play guinea pig with this particular app/abomination. Yep. I’m coming out swinging on this one. I’ve had Facebook Home installed for only a few hours and I already hate it. In fact, the more I use it, the more I hate it. I know you’re probably saying to yourself “But he’s an idiot who hasn’t really given it a chance.” You are wrong. While I may be an idiot (that’s up for debate), I have given it a chance. You see, I wanted to uninstall Facebook Home within minutes of first installing it on my phone. The very fact that I didn’t shows that I gave it a chance. Let me break it down a bit for you. After downloading Facebook Home, I was prompted to update the Facebook app in order for everything to work which I did. I also updated the Messenger app in hopes of eliminating any potential issues. Knowing that the new chat heads feature is now built into the Messenger app, I figured I would need to do so anyway in order for that particular feature to work. Once the apps had both been updated, I pressed the home button on my phone and was promptly taken… to my home screen? WTF? I thought that Facebook Home was a launcher? Why wasn’t I being prompted as to whether or not I wanted Facebook Home or TouchWiz? I looked for a Facebook Home app listed in my app drawer but there wasn’t anything there so I launched the regular Facebook app which told me to complete the setup by setting Home as my launcher. OK. Now we’re getting somewhere. The first thing that I noticed on my screen was a post from my sister. I liked how it had the image she posted slowly scrolling across the screen with the text at the top of the image. Unfortunately, it was from yesterday. One of my biggest gripes about Facebook is the fact that they don’t give me the most current posts when they are posted. (This is why I use Plume.) Facebook seems to feel the desire to have total control over what posts I see from my friends, when I see them, and I don’t like that. But I digress. One of the reasons that so many people like the Android platform is because they can make it look how they want it to look. Through the use of folders, widgets, and backgrounds, two phones that are the same can have a completely different user experience based on how the user changes things up. Facebook Home totally neuters this experience by removing all of it. All you are left with are old Facebook posts, which do look nice, but ultimately negate one of the things that I think Android does best: customization. Another thing that I found troublesome is that accessing my installed apps is a giant pain. By swiping your Facebook profile pic up, you can access your apps; however, they are organized in a freakishly random fashion. There are four different pages that you can scroll through, three of which have assorted apps just placed there seemingly at random. The fourth page does have all of the apps you have installed, but what’s with the other three pages? Once I had my launcher all “configured,” I locked my screen. I quickly discovered that gone are the security features of the Android lockscreen. By default, Facebook Home disables the lockscreen and instead gives you… Facebook Home, but with a clock that stays in place for all of about 3.2 seconds. Sure, this can be disabled and you can have your normal lockscreen, but something like this should be disabled by default. Security is a serious issue and Facebook Home seems to take it very lightly. As for the Facebook features, double-tapping on your screen when you see something that you like will “Like” the post for you. Holding your finger on a post will zoom out to show you the image associated with the post, and Messenger now has chat heads – round icons of your friends’ profile pics showing you that they have sent you a message. (Honestly, the chat heads feature is pretty cool, but you don’t need Facebook Home to use it; just update the Messenger app and it will be all yours.) While I do like the chat heads feature, it was somewhat difficult to get working and didn’t fully function until after a reboot of my phone. This is something that I feel should work once it’s installed. There was no indication that I needed to reboot, I just did it after trying for 20 minutes to get the thing to work properly. Thankfully, I’ve got years of asking people if they’ve turned it off and back on again under my belt so I’m no stranger to the magic of a reboot. All in all, I think that Facebook Home is awesome for those who have a smartphone for the sole purpose of accessing Facebook. If they don’t care about widgets, easy access to their apps, or security, then they definitely need to install this app. However, for those of us who actually like what Android offers, and only access Facebook when they need to, this is an app to steer clear of. Maybe as time goes on, Facebook will figure out how to get it right, but as of now, there’s a lot that is wrong. And for those who are curious, this is what my usual home screen looks like:
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Co-founder/show host/producer of Stolendroids. If you've listened to our shows, you know that I'm a geek. Anyone who says differently doesn't know me very well. If it has anything to do with computers, video games, toys, comic books, or sci-fi, you can count me in. Also, I aim to misbehave.