Facebook wants to be front and center in your social network. To that end, it launched its much-anticipated phone experience: the Facebook Home app for Android, and the HTC First “Facebook phone,” which comes with the software preinstalled. After spending time with Facebook Home, we found that it goes even deeper into your device than it first appears to.
Here are four things that might make Facebook Home just too much for you.
1. You see it all.
Facebook Home's central experience, dubbed Cover Feed, shows whatever's in your news feed on your phone's home screen. There is no way to customize Cover Feed to control whose updates you see on your phone. That means you get everything — from everyone in your news feed — displayed on your phone's lock screen, be it during a business meeting or dinner with friends. And if your friends routinely post blurry, low-quality images, you'll be looking at every last one of them with the Cover Feed, so you might want to offer them some basic photography tips.
2. Data usage soars. Quickly. Maybe.
When asked, the Facebook representatives we spoke with didn't have an answer for how much data gets consumed by the large and always-on image downloads for Cover Feed. Facebook's inclusion of data settings shows that it did think about the issue, but the options — low, medium and high — are not terribly useful in helping consumers figure out the bits and bytes being used.
If you're a low-key Facebook user with a tight circle of friends, it may not pose a problem. But if you have hundreds of active Facebook friends, you can expect your data consumption to grow. [See also: How Much Smartphone Data Do I Need? ]
3. Widgets and folders disappear.
The Facebook Home app doesn't support Android widgets or folders — or notifications, for that matter. Many phone makers, like Samsung and HTC, rely on widgets and launcher customizations of their own to distinguish their phones from the masses. Facebook Home obliterates all that.
For example, removing the S Pen stylus from a standard Samsung Galaxy Note II unlocks the phone and kicks the home screen to a widget with a bunch of S Pen app options. On the same device with Facebook Home installed, removing the S Pen does nothing.
Furthermore, Facebook Home doesn't support your Android app folders that neatly organize your apps, nor does it support the Android widgets for things like news and weather apps.
4. Getting to apps takes longer.
Facebook Home doesn't let you customize the lock-screen launcher to set up one-touch access to oft-used apps or functions, such as the camera, phone or competing social-network apps (surprise!). So, getting into these apps can take a few extra swipes or clicks than you have to do without Facebook Home installed.
That includes the camera, so you might miss a great photo to post on your Facebook profile while fumbling with buttons to get away from someone else's profile. Depending upon how you use your phone, that could be either a mere annoyance or completely dissuade you from giving Facebook Home a try.