After last week writing about Facebook's new move to release its app launcher 'Facebook Home', I was eager to have a hands-on when it's released. On 12 April, it was launched on Google Play Store. But it is bad that it is restricted to only US phone users. Thanks to the mighty Internet community, not taking too long, the Facebook Home apk file was uploaded. I got mine from this website here. If you have the compatible Android phones (HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S3 and Note 2), you can use your phone browser to download the apk from the above website. Also remember to check "Unknown Sources" under settings->application. It allows you to install 3rd party app (not from Google Play Store) on the phone.
Once Facebook Home is launched and signed in using your Facebook ID, both the lock screen and wallpaper are replaced by the cover feed, mainly photos from your friends. The feeds will change over time just like a digital photo frame. By tapping on the screen, a button with your own profile picture will appear. Press on the button, three other shortcuts will appear around the button. Messenger directly brings you to the Facebook Messenger, Apps will display a set of selected apps. If you want to see all the apps, just tap the tiny app icon at the bottom. The right shortcut is the last application accessed. For example, I just opened Chrome, then it will be shown as Chrome.
When you have any updates from Facebook, the notification will pop up like the screenshot above, tap and slide on it will direct you to the Facebook app and show the news accordingly.
By tapping the setting button on the phone, it will show settings for Facebook Home. Four most important settings are on the top, turn off the app launcher, show status bar, show home screen when screen turns on (meaning no lock screen) and data usage. Nothing magic here.
So far, I feel that Facebook Home is a good App launcher with smooth transitions and a bit of design element. However, lack of much innovative features makes the excitement fade away fairly quickly. Certainly Facebook needs better integration between its Facebook app and its app launcher.
Meanwhile, it can be somewhat worrying as all the Facebook Newsfeed is now directly display on the screen. It might be embarrassing if your friends or colleagues happen to glance at some pictures or news that you would not want them to know. How Facebook address this privacy concern will definitely have a big impact on the number of users who will use Facebook Home in long term.