Facebook Home could revolutionise how we use our smartphones, offering seamless integration between phones and social media. But what is it exactly and how do you get it?
It's no secret that Facebook has been working on something big for the mobile phone space. For a long time, rumours circulating the net were that the social network was developing a new handset. Instead, it did something unexpected - it launched Facebook Home, a new app for Android phones.
Video: Facebook Home - All you need to know
Facebook Home represents a serious foray into the mobile space for the social network. With more and more people using handsets to access the social media site, the new service aims to provide them a faster, more natural way to follow their feeds on these devices.
Facebook describe Home as a 'wrapper' around Android, and that's a good way to think of it. Essentially, it sits on top of the standard Android platform, keeping the same basic functionality - such as the ability to launch apps - but overlaying it with a new user interface and information from Facebook.
What does Facebook Home do?
Once activated, the Facebook Home app puts the social network front and centre on your smartphone.
The handset's lock screen and main menu become real-time, continuously updating news feed, and display information such as:
- Friends' status updates
- Posts from followed pages
- Private messages and chat
Visually, it's quite appealing. Feeds consist primarily of large images and clear text, which cycle or can be swiped through manually. Touching an update lets you do many of the social shenanigans you'd expect from Facebook, such as 'liking' the post.
Facebook Messenger is also built in. When someone sends you a message, they appear as a "chat head". Their image appears in a small circle, accompanied by text and stay on the homepage until closed, making it easy to keep track of discussions or flit between different conversations quickly and fluidly. Messenger also allows users to send SMS messages, and talk to friends using an internet connection.
How do I get Facebook Home?
Facebook Home launched on 12 April 2013, and is available to download from the Google Play Store. Simply search for "Facebook Home" and if it's available, it should pop up.
It's important to note that although Facebook Home is available for Android phones, it's not compatible with all Android phones. In fact, only a small number of Android handsets are supported at present. These include:
- Samsung Galaxy S3
- Samsung Galaxy Note II
- HTC One X
- HTC One X+
- HTC First (not yet released, Facebook Home pre-installed)
If you don't have a compatible device, you're out of luck. However, we'd expect Facebook to widen the range of supported handsets in the future.
Should I get Facebook Home?
That depends. If you're an avid Facebook user and check the device throughout the day, you may find it convenient to have your feed seamlessly integrated into your phone.
At the same time, it's not for everyone. Some people don't want to be on Facebook 24/7, preferring to use it at their convenience. Others are aware of some of the risks that can come from posting on Facebook. Some people have also expressed privacy concerns about the service, fearing Facebook will be able to track your movements and that data could be mined to determine private or sensitive information about users.
Ultimately, whether you use Facebook Home or not is your choice. If you want to be constantly connected to Facebook and you have a compatible handset, give it a go. If you want to keep some degree of separation between your phone and social media service, don't download Facebook Home.
Is Facebook Home available for iPhone?
At the moment, Facebook is only available on the Android phones listed above. There's been no outright denial that it won't come out on iPhone, but given Apple's stringent control over everything that lands on iOS, we'd be very surprised if it happened any time soon.