Facebook Home on iOS? No Thanks

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that Facebook’s announcement yesterday at their headquarters in Menlo Park, California, didn’t get me stoked up one bit. I didn’t even realise it had started until I checked my Twitter during a break from revision in my university’s library and discovered that the event had temporarily hijacked my feed. So, to procrastinate a bit, I started watching the live feed and reading a bit more about it on various technology blogs. The results, unfortunately, didn’t impress.

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Facebook Home is essentially a launcher for your Android phone. Smart: yes. Practical: well, debatable.

First of all, I was totally confused as to what was being announced. Was it a phone? Was it a new mobile app? Only later did I find out that Facebook Home was an interface that is cemented on top of the default operating system (in this case, Android) on your phone allowing you to interact a bit more with the world’s most popular social network. Oh, and there’s a phone, the HTC First, with the interface built in. Not exactly groundbreaking stuff, in all honesty.

Reactions, Reactions

Yesterday, I asked on our various social networks what our readers, followers and fans (on Facebook, ironically enough) thought – and the reactions were generally negative. Mark Myerson, one of our writers, said on Twitter:

I’ve had nightmares that look like Facebook Home 😉

And Mark O’Meara, one of our fans of Facebook, stated:

I cannot see it lasting very long. A very lame attempt at trying to boost revenue.

Other reactions were on similar lines, stating that Home will never take off on iOS and people will react negatively when they are “forced” to use it.

Home on iOS? Dream On

Soon after the official announcement, reports started coming on various tech sites that Facebook Home won’t find a home on iOS thanks to Apple’s strict rules on third-party app. Call me a grumpy old sod, but that’s something I’m thrilled about.

FacebookChat

Facebook Home on iOS requires jumping over many hurdles, including a tighter co-operation with Apple.

To me, Facebook is more of an unnecessary burden than a useful tool. Although the developers have tried to make the web version as intuitive as possible, I still find it clunky and annoying to use. The mobile versions aren’t much better either – despite the fact the iOS version got a much-needed update last year (the engineers completely reworked the app’s platform), it is still slow and sometimes an absolute pain to use. Why Facebook doesn’t take a leaf out of Google’s book when it comes to iOS app coding (yes, I’m talking about the Google+ app) is beyond me, to be honest.

Those Little Annoyances

What annoys me profusely about the iOS app is the intrusive notifications. If I, for example, like or comment on a friend’s status, then I’ll get notified when someone else comments on it, regardless or not where they are a friend. I’ve lost count of the number of times my Notification Centre or lock screen has been jammed up with useless notifications. And now I’m been given the option for Facebook to take over my entire phone? No thanks, Mark (that’s Zuckerberg, by the way!).

Facebook Home seems to be a pathetic attempt to try and strengthen the social network’s mobile presence but, in my eyes, they are going about it completely the wrong way. Surrendering your phone’s entire launcher to one social network isn’t the way to go about it — redesigning your entire social network is, though.

A New Approach

Facebook really does need a radical, new approach to its core concept of linking people together and helping users communicate and share with one another so I think rather than wasting precious resources on building an entire launcher that (by the sounds of it, anyway) people don’t exactly want or have given a lukewarm reception to, they could divert these to improving its design and approach. Myspace did it (and they’re haemorrhaging users, anyway) so why can’t Facebook? Who knows.


  • Wain

    Absolutely loved your article and couldn’t agree with you more.

    • James Cull

      Thanks :)

  • http://mac.tutsplus.com Johnny Winter

    James, I agree with you entirely. I’m one of the five billion people on this planet for whom Facebook has never appealed. I’ll be honest, I just don’t understand the attraction of volunteering all of my personal information, social contacts, interests, hobbies and more to a geek in a hoody.

    The fact that Facebook has repeatedly run roughshod over the preferences of individuals, when it comes to constantly revising their “privacy” policy, should be ringing alarm bells. The fact that it has been cited as a reason in one third of all divorce cases hardly suggests to me that it is a force for social cohesion.

    In fact, I perceive Facebook to be a thoroughly distasteful invasion of privacy by a large corporate entity intent on flogging your data for the hughest price possible.

    I, too, was confused as to what their announcement was? It’s not a phone, it’s not an OS and it’s not an app. But the fact that it is integrated so deeply into the OS is insidious. It’s the ultimate tool for tracking people and harvesting their data. To me, it seems to resemble a rootkit. It’s just that the corporate-backed geek in a hoody has suckered a lot of people into sharing all there personal info. This is just another part of Facebook’s insatiable appetite to sell their userbase.

    I don’t like it. I won’t be using it. And the day that I am forced to use it in iOS (never, I hope) is the day I ditch my iPhone.

    • James Cull

      That’s good to hear, Johnny. I am one of those 1 billion people that have Facebook, but to me, the appeal really is wearing thin. Out of the 600 friends or so I have on there, I only want to keep in touch properly with about 10% of them, and I do that in the old-fashioned way of talking to them :)

      I think it’s scary that Facebook has such a grip over people’s lives – the amount of personal data you surrender to them is scary and people can find out all about you just by your Facebook profile and what you do on there, which is slightly worrying. I’m ditching it after I leave university as it just doesn’t interest or excite me any more.

  • http://mac.tutsplus.com Johnny Winter

    I’m blaming autocorrect for the incorrect “there”, instead of “their”, and the spelling error.

  • http://www.alainalemany.com Alain Alemany

    While I didn’t used offensive words, cursed no one or use racism… I don’t know why my comment didn’t appear. Is because I didn’t praised this James or because I’m not at Apple’s side?

    If the case is if a forum or a blog forbids a different opinion, then I have no idea why exist. I even have no idea, being this the case, why you didn’t explain that as a mayor rule here.

    Have a nice day.

    • James Cull

      Alain,

      I don’t know why your original comment didn’t show up. Normally any “new” comments – so, comments from users that haven’t posted on the site before – have to be approved manually and it could have been that your comment got caught up in our spam system. In any case, apologies it hasn’t shown up.

      We like to get a discussion going so of course we wouldn’t reject a comment just because it disagrees with the opinion put forward in the article. That’s not how we work – as long as it isn’t offensive then anyone is free to express their opinion in the comments.

      Cheers,
      James

  • http://x111.com Jos

    “Facebook Home seems to be a pathetic attempt to try and strengthen the social network’s mobile presence” I think you’re confusing the means with the end.
    Look at how Home works, the data it interacts with and has access to, that’s the whole point of Home.
    Facebook is a business, a business selling targeted ads. With Home they’ll be able to deduce where you live, where you work, where you shop, for how long you are at any location, cross referencing it with other people using Home to see who you hang out with. The amount of extra data mining they’ll be able to do through this app and the control it takes over all aspects of your phone is mindblowing, and THAT is what they’re after.

  • Rob

    Hhm….i guess if this was released only for ios everyone (in here) would be cool and loving it and hate it when it got released to android (just like instagram…) but because it is the other way around….

  • Christian van de Pol

    I think that Facebook home will not even last long on Android. Even if FB gets apple that far that they would allow FB home on iOS, I cannot imagine it would become a great succes.

    I must however admit that this is a clever move of Facebook. Instead of bringing an own tablet to the market, they offer their big fans a possibility to pimp their mobile or tablet fully to FB, which will feel as if your device have become a FB device.

    So, in the end, they could become successful as there are a huge amount of consumers that love FB. But the typical iOS user, wouldn’t go for a FB device, I think. And Apple, who controls what is possible on an iOS device, wouldn’t support this, I believe.

    Interesting to see what will happen…