May 10, 2013
Facebook Starts Home Improvements After App’s Lukewarm Reception
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Facebook is looking to do some renovations to its new Home app, which was introduced with much fanfare just a month ago. So far, however, a scant one million users have installed the app. While it was installed around 500,000 times in the first two weeks the rate has not accelerated. Home was, however, installed natively on the HTC First handset, which arrived in April.Home provides supported Android devices a Facebook family of apps that includes the social media giant´s feeds as well as messages at the forefront of the interface.
Part of the reason the Home hasn´t caught on is that the ratings haven´t exactly been good. The app has an average two-star rating in the Google Play store with more than 8,400 one-star reviews and only 2,800 five-star reviews.
To get more Home “ownership,” so to speak, Facebook has been renovating the service and is looking to give it curb appeal. To that end, the social network has reportedly combed through the single-star ratings and is looking to address some of the key complaints, which include missing features such as folders for apps and the inability to rearrange apps.
On Thursday, the Social Network held a so-called whiteboard session at their campus in Palo Alto to address the concerns about Facebook Home. The event was hosted by Cory Ondrejka, vice president of mobile engineering, and Adam Mosseri, director of product development.
“The five star reviewers are pretty outspoken, saying things like, ℠we love what cover feed is doing,´” Ondrejka said according to Ars Technica. “We spent a lot of time diving throughout the one-star ratings “¦ and it really breaks into the categories of [what features are missing].”
Facebook Home is currently the company´s most ambitious bid to attract mobile users, and during Thursday´s session Ondrejka noted that Home users were reportedly spending 25 percent more time on Facebook and interacting with other users 25 percent more. The social network has also seen chat usage jump by about seven percent, while Home users were sending around 10 percent more messages.
Even with these increases Facebook seems to believe it can do better, and announced that it will attempt to solve some chatting issues. The company will also look to make Home more attractive to first time users, and will implement what it internally calls “Blues Clues,” a resource that will effectively guide the user through the application´s interface and features.
The company´s tutorial will be similar to the one Facebook now uses in their web version, which includes pop ups that provide directions on how to use the application. “It´s always on us to make it easy for you to get into the experience,” Ondrejka added.
Of course this is all important to Facebook, which has been losing ground on the mobile front — and with it potential revenue. Ondrejka noted during Thursday´s whiteboard session that advertisements are still in consideration for Facebook Home but that the company is only looking to get the product in the right place first.
An update for Facebook Home will go live on Friday to fix some minor bugs, but the company has yet to announce when the new features addressed on Thursday´s session will officially arrive. The next scheduled update is June 6, but it is unclear if those new features will arrive at that time.