At the Facebook Home launch, Mark Zuckerberg stood there, wide eyed and full of joy as he explained the latest innovation from Facebook. No, it wasn’t the long rumoured Facebook phone (At least, not the way we envisioned it would be). It wasn’t even the forked Android version, nope, just a simple launcher. (For a full look of Facebook Home, check out the Android Authority review.)
For some people it was a big disappointment and for others a huge relief, but Zuckerberg ventured forwards, explaining how Facebook Home was the biggest innovation in mobile operating software. He explained that software should be about you, the user, rather than a bunch of widgets and applications.
Facebook Home was meant to show both the public and investors that Facebook understood mobile. A week into the experiment, and for now, Facebook Home looks like becoming a failure.
Many downloads, many bad reviews
Sure, Facebook Home has over 500,000 downloads on the Play Store but that doesn’t give us an accurate portrayal of whether the people who are downloading the launcher are actually using it. What will worry Zuckerberg most, is the extremely poor rating of Facebook Home in the Play Store. It’s bad enough that Facebook Home is only compatible with a short list of phones, but the majority of users who can actually download the application, are not finding Facebook Home to be as useful as Zuckerberg claims it is.
Like we thought, the hardcore Facebook users are enamored with the fact that Facebook Home puts their News Feed front and centre. This notion has been most aptly put by one reviewer as
“It’s Facebook. On my phone, my new Facebook phone”.
Others haven’t quite fallen in love with a constant stream of Facebook. They say it’s an okay application but it’s just a little too in your face. What is recounted throughout many reviews is the love of Chat Heads. It’s clear that Chat Heads is a favourite, but unfortunately for Facebook, Facebook Home is NOT a requirement to use Chat Heads.
Then there are the not so good reviews. More than half of the reviews are one star and what’s worse is there are a multitude of reasons as to why people despise Facebook Home. Claims ranging from a reduction of battery life on their smartphones, to the multitude of complaints over reduction of usability and functionality.
Many complained of the added steps for simple and essential tasks, like using the phone application (“Why would you need to use that, when there is a perfectly good Facebook Voice application,” asks Zuck).
But the biggest problem Facebook Home is reported to have is the lack of customization. One reviewer claims,
“This is an amazing app if you don’t like widgets, folders, or basically any of the good stuff that comes with the Android experience.”
Some said that if they didn’t want widgets then they would have bought an iPhone and others even went so far as to say that they’d deactivated their Facebook and contemplated moving to Google Plus.
But the lowest blow comes in the sheer amount of people claiming that they were uninstalling the application, proving that the 500,000 downloads number is clearly not an accurate representation of active users.
Big picture meet Big problem
So here is the problem with Facebook Home. It’s a great application for those who are in love with Facebook and have friends who are fun and share interesting things.
But here is the truth for most people. After years of using Facebook, people have amassed hundreds, maybe even thousands of friends and liked hundreds of pages. What this has done is created a large amount of crud in your News Feed. I recently had a good look at my News Feed and came to the realisation that the things that I really wanted to see were hidden under a boatload of garbage that I had no interest in. To fix this I had two options, I could deactivate my account and start over, or begin the long and arduous clean up process. I chose neither and decided that Facebook wasn’t an integral part of my life and that I could live without it.
Many people who download this application may simply come to the conclusion that the reason they don’t like the application, is that they don’t like what is in their News Feed, because that’s basically what the app is. The description itself says “Facebook Home puts your friends at the heart of your phone. Replace your standard home screen with a steady stream of friends’ posts and photos”. With Facebook Home you may find that you don’t actually care about Jessica sharing a picture of her McDonalds meal, or Jason checking in at the bathroom. That’s because it’s easier to see, when your News Feed is beamed right onto your phone, full screen and in front of all the other applications that are integral to you. It’s distracting you from all the other things you like to use and maybe it’s just a little too much Facebook, a little too little everything else. The advertisements for Facebook Home pretty much consolidate it’s distracting nature, because, well just take a look at them.
Zuckerberg clearly believes that Facebook Home is the application that proves Facebook is serious about mobile. That investors and the public alike should come and take a look at Facebook’s vision of what mobile should look like. But for now most of the public have decided that Facebook’s vision of mobile is not for them.
Is Facebook Home the disaster that people make it out to be? Will you be downloading the application? Let us know in the poll and continue the argument in the comments.