We saw Facebook Home being showcased as an out-of-box experience on the HTC First, but Facebook also promised that on April 12th, users will be able to download the free Facebook Home launcher onto select devices, so how does it look and work? We had a chance to sit down with a Facebook designer and software engineer at the Facebook Home launch at its Menlo Park, California headquarters and we took the Facebook Home UI on a Galaxy Note 2 for a spin, and for the most part it works as advertised.
Running on the Samsung Exynos 4 quad-core CPU of the Galaxy Note 2, Facebook Home ran fluidly, as you can see from the embedded video above on GottaBeMobile‘s YouTube channel. There wasn’t any noticeable difference in performance on how Facebook Home performed on the Galaxy Note 2 versus the performance on the HTC First.
The Facebook Home interface was also shown to me on a Galaxy S3 smartphone, though the larger display size of the Note 2 really allows the UI to shine through with photos and text.
The main difference between the downloaded Facebook Home experience from Google’s Play Store and the embedded experience out of the box on the HTC First are two things.
First, when you initially launch Home on the downloaded experience, you’ll be given a pop-up dialogue box asking if you want to launch Facebook Home just this once or for every time you hit the home button on your phone. Running it just this once will always activate the pop-up box for every press of the home button, which could get annoying fast. If you download this UI, you should commit to it and try it, else delete the Facebook Home launcher and stick with TouchWiz, Sense UI, or whatever else is on your device instead.
Second, notifications for third-party, or non-Facebook services, won’t be as integrated. You’ll likely get your notifications via the Android drown down menu on the downloaded experience versus being integrated into the Facebook Home UI language for the out-of-box experience.
Other than that, both experiences ran the same and there is really no difference in performance.
At launch, the company says that Facebook Home will be available for the HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung GALAXY S III and Samsung GALAXY Note II. It will also be compatible with the newer Galaxy S4 and HTC One flagships as well.
And according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the company will continue to improve Facebook Home and make it available to more devices. Zuckerberg hinted that Home would be coming to other platforms in the future, though launching it on one of the largest mobile OSes in the world right now helps to broaden the appeal of Facebook Home. Zuckerberg says that Facebook Home will also be coming to tablets in a few months as well, so that means we’ll hopefully see a tablet-optimized experience for various sizes of Android slates.
It’s curious as to what Facebook intends to do with Home. It’s not monetizing the Home efforts initially, though Zuckerberg says that Facebook ads will creep in at some future date. And while Facebook says it’s not competing against Google with Android, but rather improving the Android experience for al devices, Facebook Home may be a direct attack on Google’s native Google+ social network as it makes the Android smartphone a very Facebook-centric approach.