Key take-aways for android-os and apps from facebook home
So the Facebook Home is revealed and so are the reviews . Every review is positive about how Facebook cleverly managed to sneak itself into an unique layer of smart-phone and OS battle front. It is neither a phone nor a OS but just a wrapper that makes it all the more unique.
Bringing people to center of smartphone was an idea flouted by M$ when launching Windows Phone 8. It even had a lock screen implementation for Facebook which looked a bit similar . But blame it on less traction and without a clear strategy that idea did not take off quite well.
What was running through my mind when Facebook was making this announcement was that why no app in Android did take advantage of occupying the lock screen for so long. My personal understanding on how Android was built made me thing that lock screen is not accessible for stand alone third party apps and that is why no is able to come up with cool features that takes advantage of the big screen real estate. But Facebook has proved now that it can be done and that it can make the experience good as well.
Apple Passbook to an extent used the lock screen in a good way to display the Passbook related notifications based on geo-location though there is no clear idea on how the lock screen is going to be taken forward in iOS. But with Apple being closed , it can take more time for Apple to collaborate with Facebook to bring such a deeply integrated feature in iOS.
Though Facebook Home undermines Android OS to an extent from visual design point/app launcher and notification , there are few take away for Android which when implemented can make the experience more awesome.
1.Any app can become Facebook Home !
Android needs to device a strategy that can allow any app to take the center of lock screen. This could spring a great set of innovations on how lock screen can be better used to provide meaningful content to the user based on a whole set of customization. This could mean there can be a Twitter Home , Instagram Home or any other app home in lock screen. It can also be extended to show more app specific home - one screen can show Twitter home and news app in another screen, as such could make things more interesting.So it all boils down to developing an interface that could accept any widget based implementation and providing in relevant content to the user. App developers need to spend more time to get the basics right as to what content or information can be relevant so that it can provide a great user experience.
2.Extending the Notification system for apps
The current version of Facebook Home has very limited set of notifications wrapped into it. There are 3rd party apps that are still not integrated in Facebook home which could be due OS limitation as well. So going forward notifications should be brought in-front of the lock screen when the phone is locked so that we can decide to take action on the notification based on the need only and most importantly , 3rd party app should be able to display these notifications in their lock screen implementation as well.
3.Notifications can be similar to ChatHeads
ChatHeads is a very cool , non-intrusive way to display facebook message/sms alert. So now the same implementation can be extended to notifications in general. Though it can be bit tricky as to how notifications info can be shown in very small space, it would be of immense use when you stay in any app and not wanting to act upon notifications unless other wise required. So when you play a game and receive a notification sound , unless it is really important , you can still the continue the game.
Facebook has opened up a Pandora of possibilities and it would be interesting to see how 3rd party apps will approach this idea. It makes sense for future version of Android OS to think and implement nifty and neat little ideas that the app developers can take full advantage of it.