Facebook’s latest app, “Home,” falls flat and fails to impress

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Caroline Ogulnick

Facebook “stickers” are one of the features that comes with Home.

Jack Weinkselbaum, staff writer

Recently, Facebook has attempted, futilely, to revamp itself.  With all of its iPhone updates, buying Instagram, and taking its stock public,  Mark Zuckerberg’s profitable company Facebook also recently launched an app for the Android smartphones: Facebook Home.  The app, intended to make your cellphone about “friends first,” turns the cellphone into a “Facebook phone.”

Users see their Facebook Home as soon as they turn their phones on, via the Cover Feed, which is the equivalent of the lock screen on a regular smartphone.

Home’s cover feed is a never ending feed of pictures and statuses, which is why Facebook described the app as one that makes your phone about “friends first,” it makes the pictures and statuses of your Facebook friends the first thing you see each time you grab your phone.  If someone writes a status update, their cover photo appear in the background with their status in white.  To like the photo or status, just double tap anywhere on the screen and a giant thumbs up appears letting you know that you have liked it.

“I don’t like Facebook Home.  It was not well thought out and horribly designed.  It changes the app too much,” said junior Matt Brandes.

The Facebook Home app also changes how users view some of their other apps.  To unlock the phone, you can swipe to the left to open up Facebook Messenger.  In Home, the Messenger app integrates both your Facebook messages and text messages.  Swipe up to open up the app launcher.  There are two options for this:  ither go through home screens of apps like on an iPhone or swipe to the left to see all of your apps.

Home screens are usually filled with your favorite apps, which is unlike the iPhone where all your apps are on home screens.  Finally, you can swipe right to open up your most recent app.  This is very similar to the gesture used to unlock the iPhone.

Another new feautre of Facebook Home is chat heads.  These are icons with pictures of friends’ faces in a little bubble.  These can be dragged throughout the screen’s edges.  Chat heads can be seen over any app that you are using, such as Instagram, so that you can chat with friends at all times.  To get rid of them, just swipe their face to the bottom of the screen.

To use Facebook Home, you can either buy a compatible device, such as the Samsung Galaxy phones, or buy the HTC First—this is the only phone that is preloaded with Facebook Home.  Both the compatible devices and the HTC First have the ability to turn off Facebook Home at any time. For the other devices, your phone will go back to the way it used to look and for the HTC First, you will be greeted with stock Android, no skins or themes, just the way Google made it.

Another new feature on the iPhone Facebook app include the chat heads and stickers. The chat heads are inboxes that appear as a bubble that can be dragged and moved around the screen. Upon tapping it, the most recent messages pop up. The chat heads appear on the screen as long as the app is opened. Facebook stickers are similar to emojis, but larger. Above the keyboard, there is a smiley face icon that allows the option of sending stickers. There are a variety of sticker types that include the basic smiley face and pusheen, faces made by a gray tabby cat. Sticker sets can be either bought or downloaded from the store via the Facebook app.