Facebook released an update to Facebook Home, its Android app that acts as a Newsfeed-fuelled “launcher” for your device, this afternoon. And the new version essentially strips out all the Facebook-ness that caused a lot of people to become annoyed with the product from the beginning.
First, you have to understand how Facebook Home works. When you install the app, it replaces your normal home screen with a slideshow-like view of photos and status updates that would normally show up in your Newsfeed. Facebook calls this Coverfeed. You had the option to like or comment on those photos without opening the regular Facebook app. It basically turned your Android device into a Facebook phone, with all your other apps hidden in a launcher that you had to navigate to separately.
For those obsessed with Facebook, Home was a cool concept. But it was pretty annoying if you wanted to access anything else on your phone like email, texting, games, and other non-Facebook apps.
Today’s Facebook Home update largely removes all that. In fact, it removes a lot of Facebook. Below is a demo of what Facebook changed in the new version of Home. Instead of taking over your home screen, the app is just your lock screen. It gives you quick access to Coverfeed, but you can jump into your regular home screen and access all your apps just by swiping down. It’s just as natural as unlocking your phone, and doesn’t force you to look at Facebook updates if you don’t want to.
Facebook Home originally launched this spring to lukewarm reviews. It even came preinstalled on a phone made by HTC called the First, but it was also compatible with several other Android phones like Samsung’s Galaxy S4. The HTC First was reportedly a major dud. In fact, one source told Business Insider at the time that Facebook Home was a flop.