Facebook Home can boast something many Android apps can’t: over half a million downloads in just under two weeks. The replacement Android launcher, which is only available for a handful of devices, was made available for download on April 12th, and only opened up to international users last week. That milestone, too, was reached while being available to only the HTC First, One X, Samsung Galaxy S III, Note II and the newly-released HTC One. It will be compatible with the Galaxy S4 when that phone is released at the end of the month.
The bigger question from this launch, which was hailed as a victory for the Play Store over the more tightly-controlled iTunes App Store, is how many people actually continued using the software once it was installed. The app severely limits your interaction with the home screen, eliminating the use of widgets and the phone’s default lock screen, and hiding the notification bar by default. Its emphasis on Facebook-only content also limits its broad appeal, despite the social network’s 500+ million install base of mobile users. It’s possible that many users installed the launcher, found it not to their liking, and deleted it.
Facebook Home’s most useful feature, Chat Heads, is actually available independently, bundled with the more universal Messenger app. While there are several other apps on the market, such as LilyPad and Ninja SMS, that purport to perform the same function, Messenger’s implementation of floating chat bubbles not only feels more native but far more useful.
Have you tried Facebook Home? How do you like it so far?