Messaging made easier
Facebook Home is designed to interrupt your social networking experience as little as possible. When a friend sends a Facebook message or a text, a bubble with their profile photo appears on the right side of the screen with the message. Tap on the bubble, or Chat Head, to read the message and respond, or flick it to the bottom of the screen to throw it away.
You can have multiple Chat Heads open at once.
I'm a big fan of this feature: Being able to respond to either a Facebook message or a text without navigating away from the page or app you're already using is a small time-saver, but one I greatly appreciate. I text regularly throughout the day with far-away friends and family members, and hopping between iMessage, SMS, or Facebook threads, not to mention the apps or browsers I have open, isn't exactly a seamless experience. Also, because you have to tap on a photo to respond, Chat Heads may prevent instances of, "Oops, I meant to send that text to my best friend, not my mom." Or maybe that only happens to me.
I like that Chat Heads hang out on the periphery of your screen until you throw them away, but I wish they wouldn't float on top of each other. You have to tap the top Chat Head to see all of your messages, and I'd much rather see a few Chat Heads hanging out on the home screen than have to dive into messages. Another downside to Chat Heads is that you can't use it to compose new chats--to do that, you need to go to the Facebook Messenger app.
Holding down your own Chat Head gives you access to extra options.
Tapping your own Chat Head at the bottom of the screen gives you options to access your most recently used app, open Facebook Messenger, or open your app drawer. The Facebook app and Messenger come preinstalled on the HTC First, but if you're using Home on another Android phone, you'll need to install both apps to take advantage of the messaging features.
The bottom line
Facebook Home wants to keep you from hopping in and out of apps as much as possible, but it's not entirely seamless: For instance, when friends post articles, it would be nice if you could view them without a jarring jump into Chrome. But with monthly software updates, Home will likely develop into a more appealing, intuitive experience.
I like Facebook--I use it regularly and enjoy seeing photos and reading the articles my friends post. But I also use my phone to browse the Internet, read tweets, and send work e-mails. Facebook Home still allows me to do those things, but I have to get past the social network to reach the other parts of my life. I like having a Facebook app, but not necessarily a Facebook phone.
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