Facebook Announces ‘Home’, a customized Facebook experience for Android devices
What it is
Last week Facebook announced “Facebook Home”, a custom skin built on top of the standard Android experience, available starting April 12. Mark Zuckerberg cites that “Our phones today are designed around apps, not people.”, so Facebook Home is designed to bring people to the forefront of the Android experience as a fully customized experience. The two primary features of Facebook Home are “Cover Feed” and “Chat Heads”…
- Cover Feed – Your news feed re-imagined, Cover Feed is a full screen experience to your newsfeed. A tactile user interface is built in where users can swipe to browse through their newsfeed, double tap to like something, and comment directly within the content. Cover feed will also include an app launcher which users can customize to include their favorite apps to be a swipe away
- Chat Heads – Facebook aims to bring messaging notifications to the forefront by showing pop up heads on the screen when the user receives a new Facebook message or standard SMS. The Chat Heads have persistent presence on the screen, but users will have the ability to swipe them away
By building on Android, Google’s open source platform that allows developers to freely manipulate and change, Facebook was able to truly envision how their users can interact with Facebook on their mobile device as opposed to the simple integrations on iOS 6 due to Apple’s oversight. You can view a video walkthrough of Facebook Home here
Planned roll out
Facebook Home will be available for download on April 12 for all Android smartphones running the most recent Android operating systems through Google Play, with tablet support coming in the next few months. Home will also be pre-installed on certain devices, including the HTC First, which will also launch on April 12 through AT&T for $99. The company also plans on releasing updates on a monthly basis as they continue to evolve the product.
Facebook’s mobile ambitions
This is yet another step in Facebook’s transition to a mobile first company following interface redesigns on the desktop and existing mobile and tablet products. Zuckerberg believes mobile should be the best and most high quality way for users to interact with Facebook. The main takeaway from this announcement is how Facebook plans on building scale. It is important to note that this is not a “Facebook Phone”, as Zuckerberg called out the limitations of hardware sales in market. Software distribution to existing devices along with pre-installation on new devices seems to be their plan for mass adoption of Home.
Implications for brands
Facebook confirmed there will be ads, but did not provide details or a timeline.
- Branding – We can expect Cover Feed to be a main feature, providing brands with a much more picturesque landscape for branding and content sharing
- Data – There’s no doubt Facebook will be collecting usage data for a few different reasons. First is to inform on product development for their planned updates to Home. Second, data can be used to feed Graph Search which Facebook recently announced in Q1, and also improve upon their location based offerings