People already spend nearly 25 percent of their time checking Facebook on their phones, but Facebook Home hopes to take the mobile social networking experience to the next level. This home screen, lock screen and app launcher replacement for Android puts your friends front and center, delivering updates and messages and cool new ways to interact with your device. Here are seven things you need to know about Facebook Home.
With the intent to provide more value from your phone's lock screen, cover feed is Facebook Home's most basic state. It serves as your home screen and your lock screen, and it displays your face in the bottom of your screen in a little bubble. The feature was designed to show you the people that matter to you most, and to bring in front of you the things you may have missed from sporadically diving into the dedicated Facebook and Instagram apps.
You don't need to swipe or perform a gesture to view the content, as it's loaded in the background while your phone sleeps and automatically slides from story to story. And to give some context on status updates, the friend's cover photo is display behind that update. Facebook Home users can double-tap right from their cover feed to like a story or photo, or they can comment directly. When you're done making a comment, simply swipe away and you'll return to the main interface.
Instead of looking at your phone's interface and scanning for the red notifications, then entering each app to tend to those alerts, Facebook Home notifications brings it all to one place. A message from a friend displays the notification with their face and name, as well as what they said. Users can tap to respond. To enter the apps where comments were made, just tap on that notification, or swipe to return to the cover feed.
One of Facebook Home's features, chat heads, is named aptly for the way these items appear on the interface. Every time a friend messages you (Facebook or text), their face pops up in a little bubble at the top of your screen along with a preview of their message. Users can move these heads around to wherever they like on their screen, or tap on the head to view the conversation. Reply to that conversation directly from there without leaving the app you're currently using.
Facebook Home makes it possible to switch between multiple messages within apps, too. Multiple bubbles will appear on the screen, and users can collapse into a pile on the side of your display so they don't take up room. When you're done with a conversation, you can simply throw the head away at the bottom of the display. The heads follow you from app to app, and even if another message comes through you can tap on heads to switch between the two conversations.
Just tap on your photo bubble at the bottom center of your display, then swipe up for apps. That takes you to your app launcher, which has pages of bookmarked apps as well as a database of all your apps. Users can control what apps they want bookmarked; they can also remove or reorganize their bookmarked apps. Swipe to the left to view all of your apps.
An in-line composer within the app launcher lets you post a status, take a photo or check in at a location, so you don't even have to exit out of the app launcher to complete tasks.
Although many operating systems have infrequent updates, Facebook didn't want to lump itself in the same category. Because of that, Facebook Home will feature monthly updates. These updates will introduce new features of Facebook Home as well as new devices that support the overlay.
How to Get It
Facebook Home will be available on the HTC One, HTC One X, Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4 and Samsung Galaxy Note II. The app will be available on April 12. However, tablet users will have to wait several months.
Facebook makes it pretty easy to get Facebook Home. All you have to do is make sure your Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps are the most recent versions on Android. Then an Install page will take you into Google Play. After selecting Facebook > Always, Facebook Home will launch and automatically be your skin.
More: 5 Best News Apps
HTC First is First Facebook Home Phone
HTC CEO Peter Chou introduced the first phone to host Facebook Home -- the HTC First. Teaming up with AT&T, HTC created the First with Facebook Home preloaded and optimized. Featuring AT&T's 4G LTE network, a 4.3-inch glass display, Android 4.1 and a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, the phone is available in black, white, red and pale blue. The First will be available on April 12 for $99.99 exclusively at AT&T, but you can pre-order it today.