Facebook Home is about people, not apps – and it cripples Android

April 4, 2013
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Today Zuckerberg came out swinging in the world of Android with their all-new approach called Facebook Home. The software brings the social site deeper into Android than ever before, and everything is as integrated as humanly possible. It isn't a fork in the Android OS, but it might as well be. With Home being all about people and social, and not about apps, it essentially cripples many of the things we love about Android.

While so far it would appear that many users initial reactions have been positive - at least those who enjoy Facebook - at the same time we're seeing tons of negative comments. What it really comes down to is Facebook Home is about people and not about apps. For some that might be a good approach, but with smartphones being a computer in our pocket don't we want apps? I know I do. And this brings me to my next point. Widgets.

With Facebook Home the standard widgets we all know and love on Android are completely tossed aside. Instead they are replaced with essentially one large Facebook widget delivering us social status updates, friends messages, missed calls and maybe a few 3rd party notifications for Spotify and the likes. The same can be said about the calendar and many other apps we might use daily. Don't get me wrong, the Calendar is still there, but those who use a calendar widget, Gmail widget, and many other things simply can't do that with Facebook Home - or a Facebook Phone.

home-gmail

Facebook's Cover Feed will show you incoming emails from Gmail, so that won't be completely lost. It's the design and style that everyone knows and loves on Android that will be lost. It's how we use these features that will be dropped and missed. It is the very nature of Android being completely open, customizable, and personalized to your liking that will all go out the window with Facebook Home.

In a report by CNET Zuckerberg states that Facebook Home will be good for Android, it doesn't compete with it, and instead offers just one more high quality experience. While we agree this is one more option, which is something that makes Android great, it takes away from so many things that truly makes Android the best mobile OS in the world.

"Google's Android is open so we don't have to work with them." - Mark Zuckerberg

Another thing worth mentioning is the quote above from Mark Zuck himself. You can look at that and say it's both a good thing and a bad thing. For one Facebook will be able to go the direction they want and would like, and not have to deal with Google. At the same time Google won't be able to stop them from crippling the Android OS even further. I don't know about you guys but being able to customize icons, add and remove widgets as I please (and resize them) and tons of other customizations and such surely will be missed.

However, it's worth noting that expandable notifications, Google Now, and even Android's standard 4.1 Jelly Bean multi-tasking are all still present - even on the HTC first. Just long press that round home button and you'll be enjoying those usual features in no time. Another extremely important point is the HTC first has a setting to disable Facebook Home, which would leave you with stock Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Yay! For now it's truly hard to grasp everything about Facebook Home until it's in the wild and we get our hands on it for a bit longer. In the end I'm sure many Android enthusiasts will still feel the same way I do now.

In closing we'd love to hear what all of you guys think about Facebook Home. We know those loyal readers that root everything, flash nightly CM ROM's and more won't like it, but that isn't the only market for a smartphone. Honestly, can you see this being something the mass public or people that aren't "Android enthusiasts" will enjoy? Let us know in the comments below.


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  • Phill_S

    It cripples Android the same way that Action Launcher cripples Android. As in it doesnt.

    The very nature of Android being open and customiseable is at the core of why Facebook Home is good. Facebook has used the openness of Android to customise the experience to what it thinks it’s users want. Some may disagree, I for example dont even use Facebook so that is a strike one two and three right off but if I did I probably wouldnt be comfortable trading off some features that *I* enjoy like widgets.

    But at the same time the point of Android is consumer choice where a dozen manufacturers try new things and the free market decides what worked and what didnt.

    Just because it takes away some things *you* love about Android doesnt make it anything like a fork (words have meanings) and it doesnt mean it doesnt add features that others will love.

    Tomorrow I plan to recommend my friend look at the phone when his Galaxy S2 contract ends in a couple months, not because I think its a good phone but because he basically just uses Android as a Facebook hub right now so he may as well consider taking that to the ultimate conclusion.

    • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

      I know soo many people that mainly use their phone to text friends, and use Facebook – and that is all. So I agree with you from that sense.

      Being an Android enthusiast I won’t use it, but I have a feeling many others will

  • John

    Unfortunately, yes I “see this being something the mass public” will enjoy because out here in the boonies, the local red-necks hate smartphones and find them too complicated to do anything but are somehow able to figure out how to navigate around facebook because their kids are so obsessed with it. They also think that Google is just another telemarketing company that’s always harrassing them on the phone. I hear all this time from different people, so I don’t tell anyone I write Android apps…

  • Ryuuie

    Well, it’s been mentioned repeatedly that Facebook is slowly starting to become irrelevant to today’s teens and pre-teens that it really doesn’t matter.

    Are there people in the mass public that may want this? Of course. Will most everyone else? No. Why? Two words: “Samsung Galaxy”.

    People are so enamored with Samsung’s Galaxy phones (note: they don’t bill them as Android phones anymore), that who gives a rat’s ass what Facebook is doing.

  • Joshua Lowe

    It begs the question….with such heavy hitters as the Galaxy S3 (which I own as of two days ago) and the iPhone….why in God’s green earth would anyone go for something that is Android but not really Android?

    • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

      Fun fact. As of April 2nd the Galaxy S III on AT&T is now $99 with a new contract, the same exact price as the HTC first.

      Easy choice for me. GSIII FTW

      • Kevin Dealy

        they are only 50 bucks at Costco with a bunch of free accessories

  • http://twitter.com/hectorlf Héctor

    Facebook Home IS about an app. Facebook, in the end, is just an app.

  • http://profiles.google.com/leemarkin Mark Lee

    i just wish Google can make one decent launcher bringing all its apps together and bringing people to the front. be more human-friendly, please.

  • Syrh Talbot

    “cripples android”? how exactly? android has been open since the beginning and calling this, firefox os, or ubuntu os “game changers” or any other hyperbole, as tech blogs and “market analysts” are almost certain to do likely to get readers’ attention, is silly since it was the android team’s intention for other companies to do exactly this with what they provided. it’s the literal definition of open source. all this is is a kiosk version of facebook, the OS even has a option to turn it off.

  • http://twitter.com/LeeArcherUK Lee

    Not really sure of the point of the article, Facebook home is not aimed at power users such as yourself, it’s for the layman, for the people who love Facebook and don’t mess and tweak Android, of which there is a lot.

    It’s clean,simple and does what it’s supposed to do. For people who need more functionality just stick to the Facebook App and another launcher. For the many who are not bothered about tweaking and widgets etc I’m sure this App would be quite useful.

  • Matt Sokolinski

    Just wait till this goes on a bigger scale. Zuckerberg will spam your home screen with ads that you won’t be able to remove. No ads now but they will be there. I don’t use fb on my phone anymore as first thing I see on my wall is a frigging ad about something irrelevant… I occasionally use it on a pc but that’s it

  • Gilbert Gonzalez

    the problem i see is this. Let’s assume for the moment that this thing does start to gather a following. Yes you don’t have to install it on your phone, but, once ads go into the app, launcher, skin or whatever you wanna call it, and start generating revenue for FB, how long do you think it will be until the normal FB app is “discontinued” as there is no need for 2 apps.

    That’s what will happen and now FB will be FORCING me to use the new app and “hide” my Android, no bueno.

    • Daniel Knecht

      Or you could just use the mobile website, which essentially IS the current android app.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Stephen.Butler.Trio Steve Butler

        The Facebook home skin is reliant on the facebook app, it’s more like a flipbook sort of thing or blinkfeed on the htc one, just furthered into the system. As said, this is Android, you don’t have to use it, you don’t even have to download it. Whenever you open a story on facebook home it will open the app, that’s where it pulls all the information from.

  • http://www.technicaloverload.com/ Nathan

    Definitely not a phone for everyone, but I see this as a good thing for Android in helping grab a few more iPhone users.

  • gswallow

    Only people interested in FaceBook and getting ripped off being a carrier “drone” of FaceBook ads. I hear you can “disable” FaceBook home. I suppose some, who have had their FaceBook account disabled, would be interested just so they can return the punch. Am happy with my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 WiFi and will be upgrading my Samsung SGH-T401g to a Samsung Galaxy S very soon. I’ll wipe all evidence of FaceBook on all our devices. Too bad the same can’t be done to “un-install” FaceBook from the internet.

  • ergu

    hm not being a big fb user and not wanting to have my experience crippled in other ways, i would have no use for this. but for the extremely tech illiterate? wow this might be a really good idea…

  • Vasternorrladn_4ever

    Facebook is removed from my Samsung Galaxy S3

  • RAH

    How do you remove this crap?