Facebook announced yesterday that it was launching not a phone, nor an operating system but a family of apps called ‘Facebook Home’. According to Zuckerberg we spend 25% of our time on mobile using Facebook and Instagram, so we should design a phone around people and not apps.
Home is a collection of apps that will dominate your phone. Coverfeed takes over your locked screen, giving you constant updates on what your friends are doing. You can even like and comment without unlocking the screen.
Messaging, through the dubiously named ‘Chat heads’, is a big focus of Home. No matter where you are within your phone if a friend sends you either a Facebook message or an SMS, their face will pop up. Then to view or reply to the message just poke them in the face!
The interface is very gesture-led “there’s no chrome, no nav – it’s about the content first”.
Home will eventually include ads but not when it first launches. When they do bring these in, Facebook inventory will become more powerful with even greater scale and targeting capabilities but also far more complicated. This will be another thing to consider in the already highly complex and fragmented mobile media landscape. Get in touch if you have any further questions.
Facebook Home will be available from April 12th, initially on the HTC One and One X, Samsung Galaxy S III, S4 and Note II and of course the new HTC First.
See what different Somo’ers had to say about Facebook Home:
Carl Uminksi, COO, was quoted on The Drum:
“Facebook Home has finally achieved what nobody else has managed since Zi’s attempt with Qix on Symbian back in the mid 2000’s, that is; take ownership of the home screen. This real estate is gold dust and allows Facebook to completely own the mobile experience. Many chat companies have tried for years to achieve a people-centric view and with the new “chat heads” messaging, Facebook has beautifully designed a mobile experience that puts your friends first and foremost.
Facebook’s commitment to frequent updates is fantastic to hear. I’m expecting integrated voice calling (voice head?) and monetisation opportunities – the home screen is a premium. While Home is available on all Android handsets, AT&T and HTC have partnered to market a Facebook ready handset, great for those obsessed with Facebook and a really great marketing partnership. I think Facebook have approached this in the right way, focussing on building upon the open OS. This will definitely encourage more Android sales.”
Naji El’Arifi, Product Innovation Manager:
“It is interesting how Facebook will be making an Android Launcher app that will essentially make any phone a Facebook phone. However I am unsure if I will always want to have Facebook photos appearing on my lock screen. Plus I have a feeling that once installed users will have a hard time reverting their phone to how it was.”
Joel Blackmore, Senior Innovations Manager:
“Facebook Home won’t launch on all Android phones – so whilst I love the ambition of essentially ‘taking over’ an important part of the phone, I fear it is just more fragmentation of the Android experience. Chatting with friends using Chat Heads (say it quickly) regardless of the app or experience you are in seems like a good concept (it works wonders for Xbox Live) but I believe this will cause countless UX frustrations in real world scenarios. Also, with Facebook’s social share dropping 5% to 60% from Dec 12 to now and -8% YoY in the UK, is this slightly too late for Facebook?”
Max Willis, Innovation Lab Manager:
“Facebook has spent nine years vying for the information and attention of over a billion users, and is arguably a communications superpower today. Facebook was expected to take an aggressive and disruptive stance by releasing its own operating system, but this is not the case; choosing instead to intertwine itself with Android is a boon for the platform. With a saturated 64% of HTC owners also using Facebook, the inclusion of Facebook Home on HTC’s phones may swell this number even further.”