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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Facebook home for addicts

The social network's new app makes it easier to access posts via your Android smartphone.
The Straits Times - April 25, 2013
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Facebook home for addicts

The new app from the social network replaces your Android smartphone's user interface with one that displays your Facebook news feed and makes it easier to access posts.

Like

On the Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE, my friends' updates and photos are prominently displayed across the 5.5-inch screen.

Liking and commenting on posts are no longer a chore. Do a quick double tap to like a post. Tap on the comment icon and you can see the full list of comments.

Chat Heads is like a widget that pops up whenever a message or SMS is received. The immediate notification has made me more conscious of incoming messages and I was more prompt with my replies.

Notifications now appear on the main screen, which deserves a thumbs up. Instead of swiping down from the top to view my notifications, I can view all of them at a glance when I switch on the phone.

Posting status updates, uploading a photo or checking in to a location are also much easier than before.

Rather than doing this from the Facebook app, touch the screen to bring up your profile picture and swipe the picture upwards to reveal three posting options in the app menu.

Dislike

Pictures are visually appealing but when a pixellated picture appears, it ruins the aesthetic of the user interface.

While I was reading an e-mail message, an incoming message appeared and the chat head landed exactly where I was reading. The intrusive nature of the messaging widget can be annoying if it happens too often. Not every update from your friends appears on the cover feed. A set of seemingly random stories will appear.

Posts are shuffled whenever the phone is reactivated from standby mode. It was not long before I realised that some posts had reappeared, while others had been replaced by posts that were even older.

To my surprise, after I installed Facebook Home, the lock screen was no longer there. If you are none the wiser, you might think that you cannot lock your phone any more.

That is not the case: Just go to the settings option in Facebook Home, make sure the "see home when screen turns on" option is deactivated and your previous lock screen, whether it is a pattern or numeric password, will reappear.

This glaring issue is something that should not happen when Facebook Home is installed.

I soon discovered another flaw: The app does not update the number of comments or likes on the home screen.

Given my occasionally controversial posts, I was surprised that not many friends, some of whom are equally opinionated, left comments or liked those posts - based on what I saw on the home screen. But when I tapped on the comment icon, I realised there were more likes and comments on my posts than reflected earlier.

Wish list

An option to switch between the most recent and top stories, which are available on the main Facebook app, is preferred, as I would rather view my news feed based on the most recent updates from friends.

Tapping on a notification will take me to the Facebook app. I would rather have the notification display that post on Facebook Home and not wait for it to load another app.

Facebook Home displays only notifications from the social network. Other notifications, such as a WhatsApp message or Instagram comment, will still appear in the drop down notifications menu.

I do not think it is too much to hope for future updates that will integrate these notifications with Facebook Home.

Closing thoughts

The launcher app is great for Facebook addicts like me, but it has quite a few kinks to iron out before I will use it as a main interface.

teinhee@sph.com.sg

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