Facebook today announced an update for its Android homescreen experience Facebook Home to address performance and stability. Facebook also revealed at a press event at its headquarters today that in four weeks since the launch of Home on April 12, Home increased user engagement by more than 25 percent compared to the standard Facebook app.
Facebook measures engagement through two areas — feedback such as commenting and liking, and time spent in the app. Facebook director of mobile engineering Cory Ondrejka adds that Facebook Home, with its Chat Heads feature, has also increased the use of messaging. He says participation, which is how many users are actually using Messenger, saw a 7 percent lift, while the total volume of messages sent was up 10 percent.
Facebook plans to update Home on a monthly basis with the latest update arriving today, and future updates landing on June 9 and July 11.
Ondrejka revealed that Facebook Home has nearly reached the one million downloads mark. He adds that, for the amount of devices Home is compatible for, one million downloads was within Facebook’s expectations for Home in this time frame.
Facebook also addressed issues users have experienced with Home, including the lack of folder and doc support as well as a more intuitive way to initiate a discussion with Chat Heads. In a future update within in the next couple of months, users will be able to slide up as they normally would to bring up their apps — as seen to the right — but instead of a small pane with apps, it will be a full screen of apps set in a translucent background with folder support.
For Chat Heads, users will soon be able to drag their profile picture to the left, which will initiate the messenger list to drop down from the left. As for widgets support, Facebook is looking into it, but didn’t reveal any specific plans to integrate it. The upcoming launcher screen, including folder support, is visible below. “We wanted to ease the transition from your old launcher to your new launcher,” says Adam Mosseri, director of product at Facebook.
Facebook is also addressing the tutorial for Home. In a later update, when a user first installs Home, they will be greeted with a “Welcome to Facebook Home” message at the top along with a prompt to drag their Facebook profile picture up to go to the app launch. Facebook wants to hold the user’s hand more before they let them go explore Home on their own. Once the tutorial is completed, the user will be popped into Cover Feed.
“Because it’s a novel interface, we’ll gently lead the user into the experience so they can figure out how to use it,” Mosseri says.
Keep in mind that none of these new features for Home are launching today, which is just about performance. Facebook plans to roll these features out in the next couple of months.
Mosseri says Facebook hasn’t cross-promoted Facebook Home through the Facebook app for Android on purpose. Cross-promotion within an internal network is an important viral tool many mobile app and mobile game developers use to move their user base from one app to another. He adds that once Facebook feels Home is ready, the company will begin marketing Home in all of its apps.
Facebook Home is currently only available for Android, which is supported on four devices — HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 2.