Facebook Home Draws Early Interest, Lousy Reviews

By: Information Week Email
By: Information Week Email

"So I downloaded the app, and within 10 minutes of downloading, I uninstalled," wrote one reviewer about Facebook Home, the new social network launcher from Facebook. "Was not impressed by this app at all. Might be nice for some people, but not me." This is a sentiment shared by many of the 500,000 people who've downloaded Facebook Home, it seems.

Facebook Home was announced earlier this month and became available in the Google Play Store April 11. It is a launcher for Android devices that replaces the stock home screen with one that's focused on Facebook content. It is only available to a handful of devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S 3 and Note II, and the HTC One, One X and One X+. It also comes preinstalled on the HTC First, a smartphone released in conjunction with the software's availability.

The fact that it took 10 days to amass 500,000 downloads can probably be tied to the device limitations. The five smartphones with which it is compatible hardly make up the bulk of Android devices in the market. There are probably 100 different Android devices for sale in the U.S. alone, most of which cannot run Facebook Home.

Some of the complaints about the app suggest it kills battery life too quickly; throws too much information at the user; hides all the native Google apps/services; and is "too in your face."

Not everyone hates it. Looking at the first page of reviews, some are titled "A Good Start" and "A Wonderful First Effort" and "Out of the Box Idea!"

At the time of this writing, the application had received approximately 11,500 reviews. More than half of them, about 5,900, rated the app with one star. Only 1,900 users gave it five stars, with 900 rating it four stars, 1,200 rating it three stars, and 1,600 rating it three stars. The average of all ratings is a dismal 2.2 stars.

It's possible that many of the people who tried the software have never installed a launcher before. Facebook Home completely supplants the home screens and menus of the device on which it is installed (visual tour available here). That means easy access to the home screen panels, app drawer, notification tray and widgets are all removed. Though these features are still available, they are buried under the launcher and take a handful of clicks to find. For some, this could be disorienting and frustrating. It certainly takes more time to perform certain tasks with Facebook Home installed.

Last, although 500,000 people may have downloaded and installed Facebook Home, the Play Store doesn't tell us how many have uninstalled it or simply turned it off. Given the large number of negative reviews, it would be surprising to learn that half the people who've downloaded Facebook Home are still using it.

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