The unveiling of Facebook Home no doubt introduced a good number of smartphone users to the concept of a “launcher” app. In a nutshelle, a launcher app takes over the home screen of your phone’s operating system, changing the way you navigate to your apps and widgets. There are already a lot of launchers available in the Google Play app store, but Facebook is the first top-tier company to create its own version.
The standard Android launcher is a desktop, with shortcuts to apps and widgets, such as the clock and Google Search bar. Facebook Home replaces this with images from your Facebook friends’ posts. Tapping the screen allows you to post a comment or Like posts without having to launch the app. Swiping the photo to the right moves to the next image.
Tapping Into Home
Tapping the screen brings up your Facebook profile pic in a bubble at the bottom. When you tap this bubble, the launcher calls up buttons that let you travel to other parts of the operating system. Dragging the bubble to the left for Facebook Messenger, or to the right to access the last app used.
Though it’s a bit unconventional to replace all the functionally that defines a standard launcher, Facebook Home does have a minimalistic and artistic functionality to it. While an image is on screen, it gently pans—a pleasing experience—along with slick, animated transitions.
Included in Facebook Home is a new feature called “chat heads,” a feature that’s also available in the latest version of the Facebook Messenger app. The feature allows you to place a friend’s avatar anywhere on the screen to view incoming messages, which is very handy if you want to chat and continue to run another app.
Although Home is relatively bare bones at the moment, The Verge reports that Facebook “is promising to update Home once a month with new features.” With over 500,000 downloads since launch, Facebook Home is showing no signs of slowing down. This does not include numbers from the HTC First, the first handset to come preloaded with the launcher. Currently, Facebook Home is available for download on the HTC One X, One X+, Samsung Galaxy S III or Galaxy Note II, with plans to add more handsets in the future.