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Facebook Home is Good for Google and Android [Opinion]

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Facebook Home has been heralded by some as Facebook’s first shot at Google and Apple and a warning that they’re going to enter the phone market with their own phone and OS soon. Still others have warned that Facebook Home may spell trouble for Google. I think Facebook Home is great for Google and great for the Android ecosystem as a whole.

When Facebook first sent out their press invitations the Facebook Home event, the Menlo Park-based company only hinted that it was going to show off its new home on Android. Immediately bloggers and journalists began to conjecture that Facebook was going to announce that it had forked Android. HTC was tied to the announcement early on according to rumors, prompting numerous stories asking if Facebook was indeed going to finally make a Facebook phone with their own OS based on Android on HTC’s hardware.

This idea was preposterous, of course. In order for HTC to make a device with a forked version of Android, HTC would have to leave the Open Handset Alliance (something that Acer learned the hard way). Even if HTC didn’t have the shackles of the OHA holding it back, HTC is in no condition to risk Google’s ire by making a fork of Android. HTC needs all the help it can get, and the only place that help is likely coming from is Google.

If you pull HTC out of the equation and assume that Facebook either secretly entered the hardware manufacturing business or found another hardware partner that isn’t a part of the OHA (go ahead, try and think of an OEM that Facebook would trust that isn’t in the OHA and would fork Android) then Facebook would still have to come up with a solution for getting people Android apps outside of the Play Store. Even more importantly, if Facebook was forking Android, wouldn’t they want to avoid talking about Android like Amazon does? Without the Play Store, companies like Amazon have to emphasize that the OS running on the Fire and similar products is familiar like Android, but different in that it doesn’t have any of the apps you purchased (who are we kidding – Android users don’t buy apps!).

Lo and behold, Facebook was not planning on forking Android to make their own phone. Instead, Facebook made an app that can run on almost any Android phone (or at least it will), making any phone a Facebook phone. This approach requires far fewer resources (although the quality of the app suggests that Facebook had undoubtedly worked hard on making a their own version of Android) and reaches far more of Facebook’s one billion users than they ever could with one phone.

This approach encouraged journalists and bloggers to wonder if this move was bad for Google. “Surely Google is upset that Facebook is taking over the lock and home screens of devices instead of Google+! Google has to strike back with Google+ Home!” The thing is, Google already has that plan in place – it’s called Google Now. Right now Google Now may not have Plus integration, but that sort of thing must be just around the corner (Babel is just another move by Google to consolidate all communications under your Google+ profile – you have “upgraded” to Google+, haven’t you?). Now seems destined to become the hub for your notifications and content on every platform (all your email, messages, directions, searches, websites, etc.).

Making a Google+ Home would make Google look like they were caught with their pants down by Facebook’s announcement. Google undoubtedly knows that a Plus Home would not be nearly as popular as Facebook home, so any efforts in that direction would be a waste of resources. Besides, if Google can get Android (and iOS) users to get used to finding everything they need in Now, they’ll win. Facebook may continue to be the main place for social interactions, but Now will hold everything else.

The reality is, Google has nothing to worry about. The HTC First runs stock Android underneath and has all of Google’s services from search to maps to Gmail. While Google may want people to be using Google+ over Facebook, Facebook Home isn’t hurting Google’s bottom line. Even with Home installed, users will still be reliant on Google’s services and seeing and tapping on Google’s ads. Facebook would have too many obstacles to overcome if they wanted to really challenge Google with their own phone and OS. Facebook and Google are certainly both after the same thing (information about users to sell advertisements), but that doesn’t necessarily mean one company has to win and the other has to lose.

So if Google still has tons of information about their users to sell ads and doesn’t have to worry about Facebook forking Android, why should Google be worried? Facebook Home is actually a really good thing for Google. What platform has the best Facebook experience? Only Android. Sure, you can get the Facebook app on iOS, Windows Phone, and Blackberry 10, but only on Android devices do you get the best experience for interacting with your friends on Facebook. While a lot of tech nerds seem to dislike Facebook, regular people love it. Having a phone or home replacement that is designed around the app you have open 90% of the time could be really compelling to users. It may not make a lot of people change from iOS or Windows Phone, but it may convince some to stay with Android so they can keep that great Facebook Home experience.

Facebook has set a new standard for what can happen with home screen replacements and how people can and should interact with their phones. Microsoft may have pioneered the idea that people should come before apps, but they didn’t push the idea that you should stay on your phone interacting with them in such a deeply enveloped way. Facebook has come a really long way from their first mobile apps to native apps for Android and iOS to Home. I’m excited to see a new wave of innovation in the home screen space as well as what else Facebook will do in mobile.

  • Joe_HTH

    Google’s not making any money off of Android anyway. Microsoft makes more money from Android for Christ’s sake.

  • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

    Not only that, Facebook actually shows other content providers / developers what they can do without forking Android that couldn’t be done on other mobile platform. One may not like Facebook Home, but if you are a Android fan, you have to like how Facebook recognizes the strength of the Android platform. Somewhere inside the Facebook campus, someone must have, at one point, suggested to make a REAL Facebook phone OS — but somehow, one ore more people who actually understand the market, understand how Android ecosystem, countered that argument and gave birth to the Facebook Home idea. Frankly, I wish this was what happened when Amazon decided to create Kindle. The Android ecosystem would be even stronger today if Kindle isn’t a fork of Android. Amazon may be competing with Google in many fronts, but there are way many areas they don’t compete, and should have collaborated instead — like, did you know that Amazon had to develop its own mapping api? Just look at how Apple ended up with. It doesn’t take a genius to know that it’s a bad idea.

    • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

      The polish in the app makes me think that they made a full fork and then changed course.

  • Crakedparrot

    Facebook Home is good for Facebook. It will be a disaster for Google and Android. Regrettably, I’m confident millions will line up to drink the kool-aid.

  • Dominick_7

    Zuckerberg thinks you’re a dumb f*cker if you trust him with your personal info:
    http://youtu.be/xaoSX7b4qHU

    • Joe_HTH

      I’d trust Facebook long before I trusted Google.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JacobGLee Jacob Lee

    Epic fail installed it have to find the phone app to make a call wtf facebook this a phone. Takes 3 or 4 clicks to get to phone app. Also took a couple of minutes to figure out where they hid the apps. I use facebook every day on my phone but this is just stupid. It us amazing to see all of the paid reviews out there for this product. Sorry droid life facebook home sucks and you are looking less credible for promoting this garbage of an app.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gregyoung135 Gregory Young

      Actually, the article never sings the praises of FB Home at all. They just said it’s good that there is another challenger on the platform. Also, the subsequent article talks about how horrible the program itself is, so I’m not sure where you’re drawing these conclusions from.

      • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

        You’re both kind of wrong. :) “Droid Life” didn’t write an article. I wrote this one and Kellen wrote the other one. I think Facebook Home is pretty good, he doesn’t.

  • elemeno

    The Facebook app on Android had been terrible for a long time before they released the “native” app which was a huge improvement. But I thought Facebook developers had lost it when they published this:

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-engineering/under-the-hood-dalvik-patch-for-facebook-for-android/10151345597798920

    Why would anybody think a Facebook home replacement app and an updated Messages app are going to be any good?

  • NIGHTSCOUT

    Nice sponsored opinion. -Brought to you by the Zuck

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=30814337 Brian Rokosz

    No widgets, no bookmarks, no shortcuts, no mp3 player…no folders…wow, its like an ooolllllldddd IOS….if chat heads was $1.99 separate I’d buy it and just go back to my touchwiz…it is really smooth and doesn’t seem to be using much data or battery though

    • http://www.facebook.com/jordan.debow Jordan M Debow

      you can just get the chat heads for free by downloading the new messenger app

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=30814337 Brian Rokosz

    Chatheads is the best part about this, it’s really useful…as is the ability to hit “more” at the bottom of the app-drawer to get back into normal android. But ya, how the heck do I make a call or use Google-now to do voice-inputs? Answer: you cant unless you go to the app. It’s like a more strict IOS…chat heads rocks though.

  • SecurityNick

    Can’t try it out since it won’t work on my phone yet (and I’m only curious to play around with it for a minute), but this is exactly what ALL the OEMs should do with their skins. Make them available to download on the Play store and have the phones be stock Android from the get go.

  • http://www.facebook.com/magnumchris Christopher A Ryan

    This Facebook home is bombing. Just read the reviews in the play store. 80% are 1 star ratings.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1444146892 Jeffrey Laird

    I gave it a try on my s3. While cool in concept it was just a bit too much for me. I think it would work better as a live wallpaper. It may not be for everyone but i can see it working for some..

  • http://twitter.com/jonathanwow Jonathan

    Well, this is dumb, I have AOKP for the Galaxy S III and it won’t let me download Facebook Home. I wanted to at least try it out.

  • brandon jewell

    “While a lot of tech nerds seem to dislike Facebook, regular people love it.” A great observation. I’ve noticed that myself (I’m one of those tech nerds)and I am curious why that correlation exists. I enjoyed the article.

  • Chris Stuart

    Home would be great if I could use it as a lockscreen

  • Joe

    You can’t get the facebook app on windows phone. At least not a native facebook app

  • http://profiles.google.com/jtsurf18 Jason Downing

    Side note, Play Store ratings are horrid so far. 90% of them are probably biased and they haven’t even really given it a shot.. still kinda funny though

  • Detonation

    “While a lot of tech nerds seem to dislike Facebook, regular people love it.”

    +1. Everyone here can complain how terrible FB Home is (myself included) but the average non power-user will probably love it.

  • Droid4LifeDawg

    Facebook Home will never be good for Google, it basically turns your phone into a Facebook phone, I’m sure eventually all of Google’s services will be mimicked by FB and backed into the soon to be goto Launcher for all FB fans.

    • DoctorJB

      I’m sure Google will be sad about all of those users now buying their books, music and movies at the Facebook Media. Wait, no media store? Well, surely they’ll lose a lot of business to Facebook apps… Oh, not that either. Hmm, well I’m sure having a launcher take over the home screen will be horrible for Google, they’re all banned from the play store, aren’t they? Oh, well, I’m sure you’re still correct somehow…

      • Droid4LifeDawg

        :-) You took all that space to say absolutely NOTHING! You’re about as an EPIC FAIL as Facebook Home!

      • Joe_HTH

        LOL! Except they’re making very little money from Android, and it’s a fact that Android users are cheap shits who don’t spend much money on apps. Hell, there’s been developers and articles that show WP8 users spend far more money on apps than Android users. That speaks volumes.

  • http://twitter.com/Disc_Or_Die Mike E

    Facebook is already on the decline, this will NOT raise their stock price in the longer term. I agree that this only helps Google, as competition is a good thing. Facebook sucks, let them get into the mobility market, Windows is getting killed and they make an OS! This is all just spin, they have stock holders now they must answer too

  • Syraz/Azilla

    I donno, I am wondering how much data it will constantly be pulling from facebook

  • http://profiles.google.com/jtsurf18 Jason Downing

    Anything that stimulates innovation is good for android. Again, I won’t be one to use this launcher, but I can imagine it being too far off until we see chat heads in our MMS app and many other things. I’m all for it.

    • JasonIvers

      Chat Heads is part of Facebook Messenger and the normal Facebook app… they rolled out today separate of Home.

      • TylerChappell

        Which I think is great because the chat heads seemed like the only decent feature of FB home. And now that Messenger has that, there’s really no need for FB Home at all.

      • http://profiles.google.com/jtsurf18 Jason Downing

        I realize this. That’s why I said MMS app and not messenger app. I’m talking about the stock Android messaging app

    • Anoma_dotNET

      How can you put Facebook Home and innovation in the same sentence?

      All you need to do is look at the app launcher and the 3 choice FB Home lockscreen function to realise that it’s a very limited version of what 4.2 Jellybean has already.

      Anyone who thinks otherwise hasn’t used their 4.2 device to their full capabilities
      http://goo.gl/ZRVOn

      I think the Play Store reviews and ratings for Facebook Home speak for themself

      • http://profiles.google.com/jtsurf18 Jason Downing

        I said STIMULATES innovation… You’re telling me there are no devs out there that are going to take Facebook Home and change it into something NON facebook related as well as add other features and such?

        I realize the stock Jelly Bean launcher has a lot of great functionality and that’s why I continue to use it daily, but I’ve also recently started using Action Launcher as well which has a great UI and great functionality.

        Don’t take what I’m saying and try to flip it around in your mind so you THINK you understand what I was trying to say. I read plenty reviews on the play store. I also said in my comment that I WON’T be using this app.

        • Anoma_dotNET

          Maybe someone with your anger issues should take a break from discussions for a while? :)

          Next time don’t read everything as if the comment is attacking you, it makes you sound like an angry douche

          • http://profiles.google.com/jtsurf18 Jason Downing

            Not angry at all sir. You’d know if I was. I felt the need to emphasize my words since you didn’t understand it before.

            Next time, DO read beyond my first comment to prevent misunderstanding in the first place.

            Come back in a few weeks and we’ll discuss the features added to different launchers/apps have adder which stemmed from Facebook Home :)

          • Anoma_dotNET

            I did read your first comment and in no way did you indicate your current impressions in your first comment.

            I’ll wait ‘a few weeks’ to see how much the other developers have improved Facebook Home and respond then.

            No need for a response, you’ve told me everything I need to know and moe, already :)

          • http://profiles.google.com/jtsurf18 Jason Downing

            Foot in mouth?

            http://goo.gl/1zfKJ

  • stabone

    What the forking hell is this facebook app?

  • John Burke

    For me:
    Home = no thanks
    Chat Heads = HELL YES!

  • http://twitter.com/jdhas jdhas

    Honestly, most regular D-L readers won’t be able to handle something like HOME for more than a few minutes, but I can think of plenty of folks who use their phones 90% for checking Facebook would would LOVE IT.

    • 4n1m4L

      There is so much wrong with this, but its all true. Using their ‘phone’ 90% for checking facebook. What a world

  • possomcrast

    Just a tip for anyone who doesn’t want to replace their homescreen with Facebook Home, it actually is pretty convenient as only a lockscreen.

    • JoshGroff

      Sounds moderately interesting. I’ll have to try it out.

      Doesn’t work on G-Nex or N4, that’s pretty lame.

      • moelsen8

        yeah i had to try to install it on my n4 after i saw your comment, and it’s stupid it won’t let it work if it’s sideloaded. i wonder what happens if you change the build.prop. i honestly don’t feel like it’s worth this much effort, though. how sad is that haha.

        • possomcrast

          Weird, I’m running Cyan 10.1 on a Galaxy S3 and it works flawlessly.

          • brkshr

            It has to do with the phone model, not the ROM. It works on GS3s.

          • TheBigNoob

            Because the S3 is a supported phone. You silly goose

          • possomcrast

            Yes, but I’m running Cyan so I wondered if it would work. I guess it all just comes down to Device ID.

    • Chris Stuart

      How do you get it setup as a lock screen

      • possomcrast

        When it asks if you want to set it as default click facebook home and then “just once”.

        • Oscar De La Rosa

          didnt work for me

  • schoat333

    I had a little fun today. I remotely installed facebook home on my wife’s phone from my work pc I got a text saying “Something is wrong with my phone, it has this weird facebook stuff on it”.

    That is the extent of my uses for this.

    • J. Gilbertson

      If it were compatible with RAZRs I would totally do this to my wife. +10 internets for you today

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dominick-White/642535026 Dominick White

        If you go to android police, they have the apk that you can side load, I have it up and running on my droid dna right now… It’s okay not has crappy as I thought it would be but not great… Not something I would ever use , but I thought would give it a try.

        • joeedick

          If you think Roy`s story is super…, four weeks ago my aunts girlfriend also brought home $8513 working fourteen hours a week an their house and the’re best friend’s aunt`s neighbour was doing this for eight months and easily made more than $8513 parttime on their labtop. use the guide here, — Gig60.ℂOM

          • Aaron

            Don’t know if your name is really joe, but you are definitely a dick. Spammers should go to the special hell reserved for pedophiles and people who talk at the theater.

          • hoytaguilera

            before I looked at the draft that said $9191, I didn’t believe that…my… father in law was like they say really bringing home money part time on-line.. there friend brother has done this 4 only about sixteen months and resantly paid the loans on their condo and purchased themselves a Maserati. this is where I went, — Gig60.cℴm

          • Aaron

            …the SPECIAL hell!

        • darciematteau

          Liam. although Roy`s stori is super… on sunday I got a great Lancia Straton since I been earnin $7529 this-last/five weeks and just a little over ten-grand this past month. no-doubt about it, this really is the nicest work I’ve ever had. I began this four months/ago and right away got more than $73 per-hr. I went to this website,, — Gig60.ℂOM

    • http://www.facebook.com/sjtilney Scott Tilney

      I used it on my S3 and my it’s not a well designed app.
      -No easy way to make a phone call, you need to find the phone app in your app drawer anytime you want to call someone.
      -Great app if you don’t use your phone as a phone

      • Crystal Carey

        If you think Debra`s story is unbelievable,, a month ago my mum basically also earned $6654 putting in from their apartment and their friend’s sister`s neighbour did this for five months and recieved a check for over $6654 in there spare time online. the guidelines at this address… fab22.comCHECK IT OUT

  • http://twitter.com/PackFanJason Jason

    Facebook Home compared to the Facebook apps make the apps look like a million bucks. What a shoddy piece of crap Home is.

  • bionicwaffle

    I totally agree! While I’m not interested in Home chatheads are a great innovation and I can’t believe that FB was the first to do it. I think it also says a lot about the future and flexibility of Android that FB was even able to do this. For me, it’s great that I don’t even need Home and I can take advantage of chatheads. Now if only I could do the same with google talk and gmail treads.

  • http://www.AndroidAllies.com/ Max M.

    “While a lot of tech nerds seem to dislike Facebook, regular people love it.”

    Inb4 “Facebook sucks so bad!”

  • Joseph Barrientos

    if i was more into facebook, facebook home would be for me, im using it now, its gorgeous, light, easy, but i dont care what my friends are always doing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Dye/575025297 Mike Dye

    This also puts a dent in there competitors sales, because if popular, Facebook home running only on Android will sway potential buyers.

  • john

    NO

  • brkshr

    While I’m not a fan of FB, I do feel that this is an experience that is only possible on Android. Therefore, this may persuade some of the many FB fans to move away from iOS.

  • mustbepbs

    Shove it, Ron. Facebook stinks.

    :P

  • JoshGroff

    TL;DR condensed version? :)

    Edit: I have ADHD, so it’s only fair to ask.

    • Austin Warren

      probably but I, SQUIRREL!

      • JoshGroff

        It’s not quite like that… It’s just really hard to focus on one thing for an extended period of time without your mind wandering, and it’s actually pretty annoying. Sometimes you lose your train of thought and end up having to reread entire paragraphs. Then of course you try to say something and end up going off on a tangent because you think of something somewhat related and the whole thing just starts making less and less sense. Also, it’s surprising how many people poke fun at learning disabilities.

        • Austin Warren

          I know what you mean, I have it too. It sucks, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little fun. I’m always trying to explain something, then somehow I’ll end up talking about something completely different, haha

      • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack D

        this Article need to use Bullet Points

        • JoshGroff

          Or that! I second this.

  • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

    So kleen.

    • Austin Warren

      I approve of this

  • KleenDroid

    Amazing

    • Austin Warren

      mazinga