Launched in America on Friday (Saturday our time) and heading to Australian devices in the coming weeks, Facebook’s new homescreen replacement “Home” is here to change your social networking experience, and we’re looking at it ahead of time, finding out if it makes Facebook easier.
It’s a service that Facebook hopes will rekindle interest in using its social network, in a world where there certainly isn’t a shortage of places to tell everyone else what you’re doing, who you’re meeting with, making friends and taking photographs of your food.
Available for select Android devices, Facebook Home is a combination of applications that replaces your smartphone’s homescreen, making it possible to browse updates to your social world the moment you bring your device out of standby.
The system, which installs over three separate (yet connected for this purpose) pieces of free software, changes the way an Android phone looks and feels.
Let’s start with the homescreen, which sees the most noticeable change.
The moment you pull Facebook Home out of standby, your wallpaper will be changed, panning left and right in a documentary-esque way through the updates of people you subscribe to.
This can include photos, or even just text-based status updates with their Facebook cover feed photo sitting in the background. While you can wait for Facebook Home to automatically scroll right to left through your available updates, you can speed up the process by flicking to and from each, as if you were flicking through the pages in your own virtual Facebook magazine.
Any time someone comments on something with you in it, or responds to a post you’ve been talking on, your feed will light up with a notification, allowing you to quickly jump straight into Facebook and keep talking.
Then there’s the menu system which changes because Facebook Home is a homescreen replacement application, and that is one of the basic functions of a homescreen replacement app.
If you’re interested in doing more with Facebook than just reading through social updates, you can drag your little avatar-filled circle into one of three positions, with the top working for all your apps and shortcuts, the left-most linking you to your messages – both Facebook conversations and SMS, we’ll get to this shortly – and the last on the right getting you back into the last application you used.
In the apps menu in the top spot, two menus are available, with the left most showing everything you have installed in alphabetical order, while the right most is one of those “order it how you like it” systems. To add shortcuts and icons, just hold down on them in the left-most everything menu and drag them into place where you want them.
You also can find an easy way to post a status, photo, or check-in to a location all from the one screen in your app menu.