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What is all the fuss about Facebook’s new Home feature?

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Facebook is attempting to take centre stage with its new smartphone wrapper/layer monster. Kipp isn’t impressed.

April 8, 2013 5:26 by

There was a lot of buzz about the new phone Mark Zuckerberg was to announce earlier this week. Despite speculations about hardware specifications, operating systems and the like, when it finally came down to it, Zuckerberg did not introduce a phone, nor did he introduce an operating system. What he did introduce was a layer, or a wrapper called Home—something more along the lines of a super bloated application, which moves Facebook to the center of the Android experience.

To be launched on April 12th for a select amount of Android phones, Facebook Home will soon be made available for all Android devices. Also, HTC will be pushing out a new phone called HTC First, which will be the first phone to have Facebook Home preloaded. Also because Android is open source, Facebook was able to wiggle its way on to the home screen—it will not be allowed such liberties with Apple or BlackBerry, meaning Home will be confined to the screens of Android phones for now.

Essentially, Home takes over your smart phone’s home screen. It constantly flashes updates and messages on a real time basis, which sounds like a nightmare. Though we haven’t had a chance to play with the software, the unique format of Facebook Home sets it apart from other applications and forces users to engage with Facebook longer than they usually would. Also worth mentioning, the omnipresence of the Facebook Chat option gives the web giant an advantage over other mobile messenger applications—like Whats App (which coincidentally Google is rumoured to be aquiring for $1 billion).

It is important to note that Facebook Home is like any other application: you can opt to uninstall whenever you wish. You can also access your different applications like Gmail or Twitter as you normally would, but you would have to go through Facebook Home to get to it.

There have been significant fears expressed about privacy: if Home is the gateway to all other applications and mobile activity, will it have access to information exchanged elsewhere? Will Facebook be able to track my activities on the internet and sell it to marketing firms as they wish? Zuckerberg has quelled fears by assuring users that their information will be safe, but somehow Kipp isn’t reassured.

Yet, perhaps the most natural critique comes from Business Insider’s editor Jim Edwards who asked: “Who, after all, wants their entire phone dedicated to Facebook all the time? And who wants to have to click through Facebook’s interface before getting to other apps you use, such as Twitter or the web browser?”

With Mashable reporting smartphone users check Facebook Mobile at least 14 times a day, there is no denying Facebook has always been part of the smart phone experience. Yet to suggest it become THE smartphone experience is being ambitious and just a tad arrogant.

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