Facebook introduced a new “home” application for certain Android phones that replaces the Android lock screen and other parts of Android with your Facebook timeline, pictures and messenger. I’m not a big Facebook user. As I’ve noted before, teenagers with smartphones who were heavy Facebook users are now using a variety of less monolithic social networking options (Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram), each of which does something Facebook does, but better. If the generation that grew up with social networking is discarding Facebook for dis-aggregated social networking, that’s an indicator that Facebook is ultimately on the way out. I realize that a lot of older, non tech-savvy people use Facebook as their main interface to the Internet, but that just means that Facebook is the AOL of the 2010s–something people use in dwindling, not growing, numbers.
So, with those prejudices in mind, some impressions after the break.
* Home puts pictures from your Facebook feed onto your phone home screen. The demos all look great, since they contain professional-quality pictures of people parasailing. What happens when Aunt Gladys starts to post photos of kittens framed by bible verses, or when your old frat brother posts a photo of his latest bowel movement?
* Apple will never put this on an iPhone. Obviously, that’s an issue, especially in the US.
* Do people really want to have their texts routed through Facebook Messenger? I would want to see the details of how that’s implemented. If it is like iMessage, Apple’s text alternative, which is very unobtrusive, then there’s no issue. For some reason, when I think of Facebook, I think of the opposite of “unobtrusive”.
* Home runs on a few of the newest, best Android phones and on a special phone just announced for AT&T, the HTC First. Don’t buy the phone – it’s a mid-level Android device for $99 on contract. Being on contract means you’re paying for the device for the life of the contract. It’s better to pay $199 for a top-of-the-line phone than $99 for a mid-line phone considering that you’ll be paying another $500-$600 for the phone over the life of the contract, and in two years even the top-of-the-line Android smartphone will be slow. As the Bible says, in two years the First shall be Last.
* Finally, Facebook has announced that it will put ads in Home. There are no ads on the Android home screen using the stock Google software. “Oh, gee, Zuck, you mean you get to control everything my phone does and you can plaster every screen with ads? Where can I download this awesome new piece of software,” said nobody, ever.
Let’s face it: everyone’s Facebook feed is full of acquaintances as well as friends, some of whom post a torrent of dreck. Why would you want that shit, as well as ads, on the home screen of your phone, and why would you trust Facebook, the most privacy-violating motherfuckers who’ve ever walked the Internet, to take over pretty much every function your phone provides? Facebook home looks, smells and walks like a giant blue turd with a white “f” on it.