With Facebook still dominating the interwebs thanks to sheer weight of traffic, its millions of users and booming advertising revenue, Mark Zuckerberg has turned the gaze of his web-monster towards the mobile sector with the aim of making the social networking site more deeply integrated into day-to-day smartphone use by officially announcing its Android-based Facebook Home user interface which can be downloaded from Google Play.
Aiming to turn your Android phone into a 'great social phone', Facebook is hoping to make smartphone interaction more focused on people than apps. So what does that mean? If you missed the announcement, here's five things you need to know about Facebook Home.
Referring to the home screen as the soul of your smartphone, the image-centric user interface will let you swipe from left to right to see Facebook content so if you see a cool image that your Facebook friend has uploaded you can zoom in and out of it or double tap on it to Like. Facebook content can also be viewed in the lockscreen without having to make any swipes or gestures and can be turned off if you are worrying about data issues.
If you are wondering where your native icons are going to go, they will be integrated into Home where your circlular profile pic icon will sit at the bottom of the screen and once tapped can open the standard applications tray as well as give you access to Facebook Messenger and a Most Recent app icon.
If you are looking at a photo or playing a game and you want to talk to a friend about it, Chat Heads will let you talk with Facebook Messenger friends and people in your contacts you'd normally just text all from one place. A small circle with your friends profile picture will pop up when a message has come through and a preview of the message to understand the context at which point you can continue the discussion all while the application you’re currently looking at is still open. If you want to close a Chat Head conversation or multiple conversations you can simply flick them off the screen.
Facebook Home updates
Facebook announced that it will be adding new features on a monthly basis to enhance the Home experience but did not detail what kind of additions we can expect.
How do you get Facebook Home?
If you are in the US and have the most recent Facebook Android app and Facebook Messenger versions US customers will be able download it from Google Play next week with a global launch tipped in a few weeks time.
Unfortunately it will only be available for smartphones with a tablet version in the works which Facebook promises will be on the way in several months time. The other bad news is that the HTC One X, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One will be amongst the few smartphones to be able to access Home as well as the newly announced HTC First which will have the Home software pre-loaded.