Facebook Home Hits the Google Play Store

by Dale Wright

Facebook has pushed forward with its plans to make mobile Facebook use more interactive.

Its new Android app, Facebook Home, has just been released for Android smartphones in the UK.

Facebook Home replaces the old Facebook app and makes chat a more prominent part of the user experience. In addition, the new Home app takes over much of the phone’s interface, including the lock screen, and acts as a fancy launcher. In addition, new ‘Chat Heads’ pop up when messages are received, and the Facebook app is more tightly integrated with the phone’s own SMS message inbox.

Facebook has announced its own Android smartphone, the HTC First, which runs the new Facebook Home app out of the box, but anyone with an Android phone can install it.

On iOS, Facebook has also updated its Facebook app to include some of the same features. However, Apple’s operating system doesn’t give developers the same amount of control over the device, so it’s not possible for Facebook to take over the entire phone with their app. But the new version of the Facebook app does feature Chat Heads in a more limited capacity. Users can also buy emoticons (‘Stickers’) for chats – a throwback to the old Facebook virtual gift system which was phased out three years ago.

Facebook’s ultimate goal is to improve the relevance of its mobile advertising, according to Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer. She insists that Facebook isn’t trying to push more ads into its apps, but that could still mean that the ads we’re already seeing may become more prominent. With Facebook Home, the company could potentially push adverts to your lock screen, for example – something which many users might be uncomfortable with.

The new Facebook Home app is out now for Android, and the new version of the Facebook app for iOS is on the Apple App Store now. Google has confirmed that it won’t block Facebook Home, but it remains to be seen whether users actually want Facebook to dominate their lives more than it does already.