Facebook: Renovations Are Coming To Home

By Justin Lafferty 

On the Google Play store, Facebook Home users have made their voices heard. As of Thursday, there are more than 8,300 one-star reviews of the application, compared with 2,700-plus five-star reviews, with Facebook Home earning an average rating of 2.2. During a media session Thursday with selected reporters, Facebook talked about how the company has taken these reviews into consideration and will give users better access to apps over the next couple of months.

Facebook made it clear that it is reading reviews and taking them seriously. The company’s director of product, Adam Mosseri, told reporters Thursday that he’s read at least 2,000 of the 15,000-plus reviews on the Google Play store.

While Facebook is working on making Home faster, it also wants to make Home easier to navigate and work on ways to better inform users.

One major update to Home that will come out soon (not in Thursday’s update, but rather in the coming months) will give users better access to the apps they’ve downloaded. A common complaint after launch was that Facebook’s domination of the home screen meant it was harder to access apps. Within the next couple of months, Facebook will add a dock to Home that will let users bookmark their most-used apps (including calling).

Facebook will also make it easier to initiate a conversation from Chat Heads. Currently on Home (as well as other Facebook Chat Heads-enabled apps), users have to go into the native app or into Messenger and pop out a Chat Head to start a conversation in this manner.

A third major improvement to Home will come in education. Facebook wants to make tutorials about the phone’s features simpler and more natural. Mosseri said that users will have greater access to help around new features to make the transition from other devices simpler.

Facebook also shared some early data about Home. So far, roughly 1 million people have downloaded Facebook Home, which Director of Mobile Engineering Cory Ondrejka said is on pace with what Facebook wanted. Among people who use Home, there has been a 7 percent increase in chatting and a 10 percent increase in messages sent. Ondrejka said that Facebook has seen a 25 percent increase in feedback, as well as time spent on mobile, through Facebook Home.

So who is on Facebook Home? Mosseri said that initially, the types of people to get Facebook Home are the traditional early-adopter types, and generally male, but as time goes on, more regular Facebook users are on the platform.

Many reporters also asked about ads on Facebook Home, which aren’t there yet, but will be there in the future. Ondrejka said that, much like other Facebook products, the company wants to make sure the user experience is right before integrating ads into Cover Feed. As Cover Feed, the marquee product of Facebook Home, is a new feature, Facebook wants to make sure that advertising will fit aesthetically.

Although Facebook Home has roughly 1 million users, Ondrejka and Mosseri also said that there are more than 10,000 people who have hacked the platform to make it available for their non-Home-supported devices. As a way to combat this “side loading,” which leads to development issues, Mosseri said that Home will be available soon for more Android devices, but with warnings that it will be a buggy experience.

Readers: Do you have Facebook Home?