Facebook today announced a family of apps you can install called Facebook Home, featuring full screen photos, status updates, and notifications piped into your homescreen. It won’t require a forked Android operating system, as Facebook wants it to be available to a wide audience: “We want to bring the experience of having a home, of having everything you need right around you… to your phone.”
After Home launches on April 12th, if you have the most recent Facebook App and Messenger on your Android phone you’ll see a banner alert to download Home from the Google Play store. When you launch it the first time, you can decide to “try once”, or choose “always” to swap in Home for you homescreen from then on. Facebook will try to make Home available on tablets within a few months, and it’s supposed to be a great experience there. Every month, Facebook will release a Home update to add new features and make it accessible to new devices.
The Home home screen experience is focused on Cover Feed, which shows a constant feed of stories and photos you can just sit back and watch. Demo’d by Adam Mosseri, Director of Product, Home also features a new notifications system that lets you scrub through multiple alerts at once.
Apps are important too, Zuckerberg says, so you can still add apps to your device. One swipe away from the home screen is the launcher for apps. Messaging is at the forefront. Phones are communication devices and we spend all day message, in today’s appcentric world, messaging is treated like another app. Switching between apps is annoying. We want to talk to people, not apps.
When a friend messages you, Home brings up the Facebook Chat Heads feature. It pops up a person’s face and you can tap on their face and bring up a conversation without losing any context of what you’re doing in the app behind. Chat Heads means you don’t have to decide whether to read a message or keep using your current app. It lets communication flow across the phone experience. It’s designed to let you tap in between multiple message threads.