After spending a day with Facebook Home, I can report that its main function is actually pretty simple. It essentially turns your lock screen into a slideshow of updates from your News Feed.
The News Feed, you'll recall, is that stream of updates that goes down the middle of the page when you open up a Facebook app or go to Facebook.com
So, is Facebook Home cool? Almost. Mostly. It's really close.
After less than 24 hours with this phone, I can already tell that it would be nice to own a phone which allows you to press one button, and then swipe through live, high-quality status updates, photos, and news stories during any spare moment of the day.
But that's not what Facebook Home does. The status updates, photos, and news stories Facebook Home shows you aren't high-quality at all. That's because they are status updates, photos, and news stories from your Facebook friends.
If you are anything like me, the group of people who are your Facebook Friends is a motley collection of family, family friends, old classmates, casual business acquaintances, and maybe a dozen or so actual, real-life "friends." Who wants to see photos and news stories from those people? They aren't very good photographers. Who wants to tap a button and see news stories from them, either? They don't usually share my taste in news.
The problem with Facebook Home is your Facebook friends. They fill it up with useless (and sometimes embarrassing) junk.
Annoyingly, right now there's no way for a user to tell Facebook that they'd like to see less of one kind of update in Home and more of another. The good news is, Facebook knows this is a problem. We're told by Facebook that it plans to improve its update-selecting algorithms and give users manual filtering options in the future. Facebook is updating Home once a month right now, so we'll probably see improvements in this area soon.
In the meantime, I've attempted to make Facebook Home more pleasant and interesting by going through my list of Facebook friends and removing people. I'm curating.
Ironically, this process has made me realize how much I would prefer Facebook Home if, instead of pulling content from Facebook, it pulled content from the people I follow on Twitter or Instagram.
On both those services, I don't follow people because I know them or I met them one time or whatever. I follow them because they take photos of or tweet about interesting things.
I'm constantly curating those lists -- adding and subtracting people based on the quality and usefulness of the content they share.
Facebook Home is a cool innovation for smartphones. Swipe-able news belongs in a smartphone's lock screen.
But I hope Facebook's innovation is one that Twitter and Instagram (a Facebook subsidiary) copy as soon as possible.
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