Facebook Home debuts to ambivalent reviews

The social media company Facebook made its new smartphone software, Facebook Home, available for download earlier today. Running on the Android operating system, Facebook Home entirely reorganizes a phone’s interface around using Facebook. An Associated Press reviewer describes the experience:

Right from the home screen, you see the things your friends are sharing on Facebook. Not interested in what Dave has to say? There’s Mary replacing him in seven seconds, and Jennifer replacing her seven seconds later. Mixed in are posts from some of the groups you follow. Facebook says you’ll eventually get ads there, too.

Facebook calls this the Cover Feed. I call it Facebook on steroids.

I hardly have time to digest a post before a new one appears, and in many cases I’m seeing only the first several words in a post, hardly enough to convey a thought. The good news is that I can pause the stream and view the full post at any time by tapping the screen. In doing so, I can comment on a post or hit a “like” button. The scrolling stream continues with another tap.

Hayley Tsukuyama concludes that Facebook Home may only appeal to true devotees of the social network:

Facebook Home takes away some of what draws people to the Android platform in the first place — the ability to truly customize the home screen. Installing Facebook Home means saying goodbye to any widgets that may have been parked on that screen and instead accept the grid layout that Facebook presents for apps.

All in all, Facebook Home is ideal for true social network addicts. But those who aren’t constantly checking Facebook mobile for updates might find it more distracting than helpful.

Caitlin Dewey writes that the first users to download Facebook Home have mixed feelings:

In a thread on the Android subReddit — a.k.a. a forum for diehard Android fans — commenters seemed to love the Facebook messenger app update, and feel vaguely ambivalent about everything else. . .

Even the Google Play store can’t make up its mind. As of 5 p.m. Friday, the Facebook Home app had earned the perfectly middling score of 2.4 out of 5 with just over 750 reviews. There are, notably, far more one-star ratings than five-star ones, with most critics echoing the complaint that they like Facebook, but not enough to give their widgets and home screen over to it completely.

(Washington Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.)

Max Ehrenfreund is a blogger on the Financial desk and writes for Know More and Wonkblog.
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