What is Facebook Home?
Facebook Home is a collection of apps that will give you a whole new way of interacting with Facebook from your smartphone. Although there is a phone called the HTC First that will come with Facebook Home preinstalled and turned on right out of the box, Facebook Home is not a new phone, and it can actually be installed on many different smartphones. It is also not a new operating system. It is a redesign of Android and acts as a new 'skin', adding a new look, a few new ways of getting around your phone, and of course a few features.
Why is it called Facebook Home?
Well, instead of the normal homescreen of your phone, you'll always get back to Facebook Home. So, when you've activated Facebook Home, as soon as you boot up your phone, your homescreen will be Facebook Home and the Cover Feed, giving you instant access to your social life and the new features and design. You'll have Facebook notifications and updates, your profile picture will appear at the bottom of the screen, and when you swipe left and right you'll access the Cover Feed, which will show you images and status updates from your friends. What's more, all those updates and images will update in real time, so it's always the latest news. Like the photo or status? Tap it and you can comment on it, or like it, and share it with your friends.
Will I get other notifications that aren't from Facebook?
With the HTC First you'll still get updates like missed calls, texts, events and emails. You'll be able to tap on your notifications and respond to the messages as and when you like. You'll also get special Facebook features like being able to 'like' and comment on updates from Facebook from notifications. In fact, messaging is even easier to access with Facebook Home than normal thanks to a new feature called Chat Heads.
What are Chat Heads?
Chat Heads is a new, unique feature of Facebook Home that makes responding to messages easier and faster. It also makes it easier to keep track of two conversations at once, even conversations you're having in Facebook Messenger, and with Chat Heads you don't have to open a new app to get messaging. Chat Heads are small circles with the image of your contacts profile picture inside. These pop up on your screen when you get an SMS message or Facebook message. They also give you a preview of the message so you can get the gist of the contents just by looking. Want to respond? Just tap the Chat Head. In the middle of reading an article or using some other app? The Chat Head will remain floating on your screen, so you can respond whenever you want, no matter what you're doing. And if you've just ended a chat session, just flick the Chat Head off your screen.
Can I still get to my other apps when I'm using Facebook Home?
Of course! There's an app launcher that, when you swipe up from the bottom of the screen, gets you to all the apps you've got installed on your phone. Simple as that! You can also set up shortcuts for individual apps to make it easier to launch your favourite programs.
How do I get the Facebook Home apps so I can begin using it?
The apps that will let you use Facebook Home will be available to download from the Google Play Store right now, although at the moment only a small selection of smartphones are compatible. More and more phones will be compatible in the future, so keep checking the app store.
Can I get Facebook Home on my iPhone?
At the moment Facebook Home is only available on Android devices. In the near future though, Facebook will most likely want to be bring a version to iOS. The only real difficulty is that iOS is not open source, so Apple will need to give Facebook permission to change the look of iOS so drastically. With the Android operating system, there are no such restrictions, which is why the Android version was built and released first.
Can I get Facebook Home on my tablet?
Currently Facebook Home is only compatible with smartphones, however rumour has it that Facebook is working on a tablet version too.