Facebook decided to unveil something new on Android and there were the usual speculations about a Facebook phone. It was not a Facebook phone on Android but it ultimately turned out to be a app launcher for Android phones.
“Facebook Home” allows users to get their Facebook feeds, notifications, photos and updates on the home screen of an Android phone. It has some handy features, which leverages Android open system, to bundle Facebook at the centre of your phone.
It will be available pre-installed with the new HTC First phone too. From 12th April it will be available for download for HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S3 and the new Samsung Galaxy S4.
“Facebook Home” could be a potential masterstroke by the social networking giant. Why potential? I will get to it a bit later in this post.
How does ‘Facebook Home’ work?
Facebook Home goes live for certain Android phones on 12th April. It will have your Facebook updates and more on the home screen. The app launcher will allow Facebook apps to be bundled and launched seamlessly to work with Facebook.
Another great innovation is Chat heads. Yes, they are actually calling it “chat heads”. The chat heads feature allows users to manage their text message and Facebook messaging from a single place.
Chat Heads feature will also allow users to keep chatting from any screen they are on and users will be able to move chat heads anywhere on the screen to get back and fro between chatting.
So why is “Facebook Home” a great idea?
Here are a five reasons why Facebook Home is a masterstroke.
- Much of Facebook’s revenue will come from mobile phones over the next 5 years. Facebook Home basically injects and takes over your phone. You phone experience becomes Facebook based rather than app based.
- Any one using Facebook Home on their Android phone, will naturally ignore other products. That makes Facebook more and more central to those users.
- Facebook will get to show full screen ads from time to time, which could be a lot more effective on mobile phones screens. In app payments also could be next and promoted with more success on Facebook Home rather than a mobile phone app.
- Also Facebook will now have access to data that they never got, which is access to your GPS data on the phone, you favourite apps, places you visit and people you call most often.
- Finally, Facebook has a natural advantage. It is the only company that could pull off something like this. With over 1 billion users it has the necessary mass to have enough people use features like “Facebook Home” and NOT miss other apps. This applies especially to people who are prominently using only Facebook on their phones.
Where ‘Facebook Home’ could go wrong?
Okay, now I am back to why it is a “potential” masterstroke and not a bonafide one.
- The problem with “Facebook Home” is that Facebook has a bad track record regarding their mobile phone apps. Even on my iPad, it is one of my least favourite app.
- Facebook also has not the best track record of users trusting it with their data. Photos and updates are one thing but I am sure they do not want Facebook tracking who we call or send text messages to. With “Facebook Home” they could be closer to doing exactly that.
- Finally, users literally need to surrender their phone to Facebook for ‘Facebook Home’ to work. It is something that people over 25 years age, might not like at all. Professionals do not necessarily want to use a social network all the time on their phone and might prefer using Facebook as a mere app.
With pros and con weighed, I find this is exciting news for heavy Facebook users. It also is a bit of a backhanded compliment to Android as a OS. Facebook is choosing Android for their newest innovation and not Apple’s iPhone it always did in the past.
Check out “Facebook Home” and drop in your comments and views.