Preview : Facebook Home

16 Apr

Seeing as the official Facebook Home app isn’t yet available for us, we tried out the unofficial app that we mentioned earlier this morning. Given that it is unofficial, some parts (such as notification integration) aren’t yet available and may be due to the app itself and not Facebook Home. However, the unofficial app from MoDaCo works flawlessly in terms of stability and performance. Should you try it out ? Is Facebook Home even worth the trouble? Head on after the jump to find out. We installed the apk file on a LG Nexus 4, since the stock Facebook app can be fully removed. We also tried to install the app on an Acer Liquid C1 and a Sony Xperia ZL – but both devices had Facebook pre-installed on the phones and would require root access before they could be removed. Hence, we only went ahead with the Nexus 4. Installing the app hardly took an effort. First, you’ll need to completely uninstall and remove the stock Facebook and Facebook Messenger app from the device, which can be easily done via Settings – Apps.  Next, we installed the patched Facebook (Katana), Facebook Messenger (Orca) and Facebook Home apk files (in that order). Once that was done, we opened the Facebook app and signed in, after which an entry will appear on the timeline to launch Facebook Home. The Android system will then prompt if the user wants to use the Home launcher or the default launcher.

After selecting the Home launcher, the app will take a few seconds before Facebook takes over your Android device. Images and status updates adorn your home screen, and tapping on the screen will pop out the user’s display picture a la Chat Heads. A double tap on any photo or status update that is on the screen will “Like” that image or status. One thing that is apparent about Facebook Home is its slick interface. Animations are extremely fluid, and Chat Heads move around with little to no lag. For those who are constantly on Facebook, the Home launcher and the Cover Feed are the perfect companion. However, there are several drawbacks that become apparent after spending some time with Facebook Home. For instance, there is no way to sort the items on the Cover Feed. On the standard Facebook app, one can sort the timeline entries by “Most Recent” and “Top Stories”; on Cover Feed, there is no way to sort the entries – which also not sorted in chronological order. In addition, the user cannot set status updates from Home, and instead will need to open the Facebook app to do that. Home only allows users to browse through entries in the timeline, comment and like them.

Also, integration with the system could be a bit tighter. There are no visual changes in the pull-down menu and the “Recent apps” screen. Notifications are also a hit-and-miss affair – although it must be noted that this is not the official app. During our time with Home, only Facebook notifications appeared, while emails, SMS, Twitter updates and Whatsapp messages did not appear on the home screen; they only appeared on the pull-down menu – which, incidentally, needs to be pulled down twice due to Home’s nature of hiding the pull-down menu. SMS messages are not displayed on the Facebook Messenger app, and there are no options to compose SMS messages as well. In addition, the SMS integration found in stock Facebook Messenger is broken in this version of Home – which TechCrunch notes is a persistent issue with MoDaCo’s patches. All in all, this unofficial patch of Facebook Home serves as a solid preview of what Facebook Home is all about. The app is highly polished and works flawlessly. On the other hand, it also highlights several parts within Facebook Home that could use some working on. Should you get Facebook Home when it is officially available? Unless you spend almost all the time on Facebook, we’re struggling to find a good reason to replace your standard Android launcher with Facebook Home.

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Posted by on April 16, 2013 in Web Social


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