April 22, 2013
Facebook Home Sees 500K Downloads And Mixed Reviews In First Week
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
After years of rumors, Facebook finally released their own smartphone “¦ in a sense. Rather than work with a phone manufacturer to produce an entirely novel device, the social giant took advantage of Android´s open architecture and created more of an app than an actual phone or platform. Facebook did partner with one manufacturer, however. HTC released the HTC First last week, the first phone to have Facebook Home installed natively.
As many others have pointed out, while 500,000 downloads isn´t a terribly low number, it´s still considerably smaller than the five million downloads a week Instagram was able to earn when they first debuted their app on Android. When one considers Facebook´s global user base of roughly one billion, 500,000 downloads seems even smaller.
Since its debut, Facebook has been heavily advertising their new “Home on Android” with a pair of very interesting commercials.
These spots show a Home user (they´re always young) in a mundane situation, such as on an airplane or at a family dinner. The Home user then pulls out their Android device and is suddenly surrounded by whatever is taking place on their lock screen.
In the airplane spot, for instance, the young businessman sees a picture of his nephew´s birthday party just before said nephew, his face covered in chocolate cake, appears on the plane with him.
In another spot, a young woman is having dinner with her family where an older woman is discussing a trip to the grocery store. The young woman reaches for her phone and everything depicted on her lock screen, from a rock drummer to a snowball fight, is acted out in the family dining room.
These spots have been called “awful,” “uncomfortable,” and even “hypocritical.”
Evan Selinger of Wired calls the ads “propaganda,” noting that the message of the ads — ignore what´s happening in real life and look at your phone — is a contradiction to Zuckerberg´s frequent talk of connecting people.
Facebook´s Home brings a user´s news feed to their lock screen by playing a slideshow of their friends´ pictures. A Home user can comment and “like” a picture from the lock screen without having to dive into the Facebook app. Once unlocked, Home takes over the basic functionality of the phone, syncing the address book with Facebook contacts and tying Facebook messages into regular SMS conversations.
Facebook also introduced a feature called “Chat Heads” as a part of this new messaging app. Chat Heads turns a friend´s profile picture into a small circular icon. When texting or chatting with this friend, their Chat head remains on top of every screen. Returning to the conversation is as easy as tapping the Chat Head.
Rumors emerged last week that Facebook was in talks to bring Home to the iOS platform. These rumors were quickly shot down, though the social network did release an update to their iPhone app. This update brought Chat Heads to the iPhone, but only when using the Facebook app.