Last week, AT&T lowered the price of the HTC First, the first phone to come pre-loaded with Facebook Home, to $0.99 for customers who committed to two-year agreements. Now, BGR is reporting that the device’s poor sales have led AT&T to discontinue the HTC First altogether.
Facebook’s efforts to acquire satellite navigation startup Waze in a deal potentially valued at as high as $1 billion have hit a major roadblock, as Israeli daily newspaper Calcalist reported that Waze’s co-founders and CEO are balking at the shuttering of the company’s development center in Israel and the relocation of some of its employees to the social network’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.
The good news: Facebook Home can now be run on all Android devices running version 4.0 of the mobile operating system or higher, even if they are not on the social network’s list of officially supported devices. The bad news: In order to run Home on non-supported devices, users must first uninstall (and later reinstall) the flagship Facebook application and Facebook Messenger, and then side-load Home.
Facebook has recently shared that on Facebook Home, engagement with the social network has increased 25 percent compared to the standard Facebook mobile application. In this case, engagement refers to the expected: commenting, liking and sharing, but also refers to additional time spent in the app such as messaging.
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.
On the Google Play store, Facebook Home users have made their voices heard. As of Thursday, there are more than 8,300 one-star reviews of the application, compared with 2,700-plus five-star reviews, with Facebook Home earning an average rating of 2.2. During a media session Thursday with selected reporters, Facebook talked about how the company has taken these reviews into consideration and will give users better access to apps over the next couple of months.
Many users have been unhappy with Facebook Home, the company’s mobile platform on Android. Facebook will release a small update Thursday to Home, but it will mainly be bug fixes and minor improvements. Two lead engineers told a select group of reporters Thursday that the first update to Home will be released Thursday afternoon, with greater updates available within the next two months.
The revolving door of engineers leaving Facebook continues to spin, as Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson announced that the social network’s head of product for Android, Bubba Murarka, was named a general partner and managing director.
The HTC First, announced as the flagship Android device for Facebook Home, now costs less than a fast-food cheeseburger (well, before taxes and fees). AT&T has discounted the price of the HTC First from $99.99 to $0.99, with a two-year agreement.