It’s not a ‘Facebook Phone,’ it’s not a Facebook operating system—it’s Facebook Home. On Thursday Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook team laid to rest the persistent ‘Facebook Phone’ rumors and unveiled its new app family for Android. The app launcher, which is essentially a Facebook overlay for select Android Jelly Bean devices, brings Facebook to your lock screen, Home screen, messenger, and well, your entire phone. But is Facebook’s Home on Android the solution for staying connected to your favorite people, or is it more trouble than it’s worth? Here are five things to look out for before installing Facebook Home on April 12.
Other Social Networks Locked Out
Being connected to people rather than apps means integrating all of your social networks, not just Facebook. With Facebook Home, all of your other social networks are likely to be pushed into the background. During its press event on Thursday, the company made it clear that you would seamlessly receive Facebook notifications, messages, and texts directly to your Home screen. However, this could downplay (or eliminate) alerts from Google Services, Twitter, or any other networks you care about.
Creepy Floating Heads That Follow You
With Facebook’s new chat head feature, both your SMS and Facebook messages pop up on your screen no matter what you’re doing. But rather than displaying a message or notification, tiny round photos of your friends pop up and essentially follow you until you acknowledge the message. This also means that you’ll be receiving Facebook messages all the time, essentially giving all of your Facebook friends the power to text you without obtaining your phone number. Hopefully, there will be an option to go invisible.
Ads Coming to Your Home Screen
Facebook emphasized how convenient it would be to see all your social activity right on your lock screen, but left out that you’ll eventually need to navigate through ads. “There are no ads in this yet, I’m sure that one day there will be,” Zuckerberg said to The Verge when asked about the monetization strategy for Facebook Home. Another team member reportedly confirmed that these ads would be coming to cover feed specifically, but won’t be included when Facebook Home launches.
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Facebook Home brings your newsfeed to your phone’s lock screen, which means that theoretically anyone who grabs your phone can access your Facebook account. Facebook hasn’t clarified how this feature would work if you have a lock pattern protecting your screen, but exposing your news feed makes it that much easier for others to obtain personal information about you. If your phone is left unprotected, some else could browse through posts in your feed, comment on stories, and “Like” items in a few quick seconds.
Reliance on Profile Pictures
Facebook Home comes with a slew of features that make it easier to stay connected with friends, but others could also add to the confusion. Remember last week when everyone changed their profile photo to an equal sign in support of gay marriage? Good luck identifying that chat head when it pops up on your screen.
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