Facebook Home: over simplified design or the answer to the mass market mobile homescreen?
This question occurred to me on the train this morning as I read through The Verge's coverage of Facebook Home. I remembered an experience from last weekend when my sister handed me her new Sony Xperia J and ordered me to load it with every app or service she could conceivably need or want. I found myself doing what I'd already done with my own phone, disabling and removing more than I added and installing what was needed to get the Nexus look. Sony's skin isn't the worst, and yet, when I was done my sister was a little bit amazed at the transformation in the look, speed and usabliity of her phone.
What has this got to do with Facebook Home? My sister specifically said she didn't want or see the use for app folders or widgets, both of which's absense is considered one of the main drawbacks of Home. I use them, but she doesn't think she would benefit from them, and I agree. The transformation really came down to a quick, well designed launcher with the traditional grid of apps on the homescreen and the persistent google search bar.
What Facebook has created here could not only be massively beneficial for their consumer engagement but could be the best hope for a beautiful, simple, fun to use (as emphasised by Facebook) mobile experience on android for the masses. It might be fair to say that Facebook has done a lot less work here than a company like HTC has done on something like Sense, but who would say that Sense offers a more usable, coherent user experience? I might be over emphasising the importance of the launcher element of a phone's UX but it's where users spend lot of time, it's the first, middle and last thing you see and use.
As far as I can recall, it was Chris Ziegler that I heard mention the amount of people he'd witnessed with something akin to the 'Get Started' widget left on their homescreen after clearly months of ownership. It's indicative of people who either don't want or don't know how to tinker with their phone and it's adverse to Android's ethos but right in line with Facebook Home.
It is also worth considering that when it comes to our best hope for a widespread, consistent and good UX on Android, Facebook is very much a household name, Nova or Apex unfortunately are not. When new users inevitably search for Facebook in the Play Store, the Home launcher will pop right up. And at least as far as UX goes, I think that mightn't be the worst thing ever*.
Tell me what I've missed? (aside from the broader disadvantages of being a user of Facebook)
*Disclaimer: I have yet to use Facebook Home. Chatheads are fun though, oddly makes me think of those furry dice that hang from your rear view mirror except with a different friend's face on each side. Might have had too little sleep last night.