Is Facebook Home The Test Version Of A Mobile Platform?

When Facebook introduced Home, as well as the flagship HTC First device, it felt weird to call it a phone. There’s little to no customization, as there is with most smart phones on the market, and it seems like that’s what turned off users. But the planned updates announced Thursday show that Facebook is planning to turn Home-enabled phones back into, well, phones. However, Facebook Home could just be a guinea pig for the company to develop something better in the future.

Reading through the one-star reviews of Facebook Home on the Google Play store (as Facebook Director of Product Adam Mosseri has been doing), it’s evident that users want more phone, less Facebook:

  • It won’t let you launch the app without clearing your preference for a home screen, the app doesn’t have customizable shortcuts for the main screen, adding apps to the app screen is lame. Just getting to the phone app to make a call takes too many clicks. It’s a phone first people. Needs a lot of work. The app needs to help a phone be more functional and integrated, not take away from the flexibility that android provides.
  • No widget, no fold supportted, it’s not convenient. And there’s only time on the lock screen, no weather, no location. Actually it should provide options for lock screen.
  • No widgets, lack of options for everything else I use my phone for. Good idea but needs LOTS of work.
  • Turned the phone into a facebook gadget. Can’t organize my apps in folders nor any other classification. No shortcut for the dialer. Have to open the apps drawer then select the dialer to make calls.
  • At first I was enjoying it. But it easily gets old because you can’t control the phone as much as you want to. The menu is too limited and can’t display widgets. I know facebook can still develop this into a much better app someday. Keep improving!

A consistent message among these negative reviews is that there’s not much customization possible. Facebook is starting to address that. Thursday, during a whiteboard session at the company’s Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters, Mosseri said that one of Home’s next updates will include a major change: a dock.

Much like most smartphones on the market now, a future version of Facebook Home will include the ability to designate four apps on the home screen. This way, users can have easy access to apps such as Twitter, Maps, and even calling (which is currently in the apps menu).

Also, from reading reviews on Google Play, it’s obvious that many users simply didn’t know what Facebook Home was. It seems like they assumed it was a new and improved Facebook app. It was refreshing to see Facebook take steps toward educating new users, as Mosseri said that future versions of Home will place more of an emphasis on explaining features. It seems inaccurate to call a Facebook Home-enabled phone a phone. It’s more like a device. For people who switched from their iPhone or another Android device, there’s a learning curve involved because the HTC First (and other phones, once Home is enabled), is not a straight-up phone.

It’s important to note that this is Facebook’s first foray into this type of mobile platform. It wasn’t going to be perfect. Expecting top quality simply because it’s Facebook led many users to disappointment. It’s likely that Home is more like a guinea pig than a finished, complete product from Facebook. The company could take what it has learned (and will learn) from Home and develop something bigger and better in the future.

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