Facebook, do your homework before expanding to iOS and Windows Phone

Chase Bonar
 from Winter Springs, FL
Published: April 16, 2013

Facebook Home shunned iOS and Windows Phone in favor of Android and it's been a rough start for the social media company so far. For the few Android devices which are officially supported by Facebook, Home has taken quite a blow as depicted by its measly 2.5 star rating in the Play Store. It's rather low considering the traditional Facebook app has 3.5 stars and the new Facebook Messenger with Chat Heads has 4.5. Have a look at Aaron's Facebook Home Walkthrough here.

But that doesn't mean Facebook Home is a complete flop just yet. In fact, Home isn't even available for enough Android smartphones to get a thorough rating of the home replacement kit, but that could soon change.

Our news hound Alex Wagner has just reported that Facebook is talking with Apple and Microsoft to bring Facebook Home to iOS and Windows Phone.

What Facebook Home means for the social media company is an immersive social media experience from the get-go. It signifies that the company is ready to invest in mobile and push their business model into a wide-scale operation where a PC is not required. Basically, its future is largely shaped by the experience of Facebook on a smartphone. It also shifts Facebook away from the "app mentality" and more towards the enveloping experience Facebook is always looking to exploit.

There's no doubt Facebook Home on as many mobile devices (including platforms) is the goal of Facebook. The problem is, Facebook has not polished the idea of Home to a comfortable point yet. I'm rather skeptical of such a move towards either platform judging by the reception of Home on Android thus far.

Many users have legitimate complaints and they are deeply rooted issues, not quick fixes. Some feel it's just a launcher that limits you to the Facebook ecosystem, which it is. This is the underlying mentality of Home and so far, it's not convincing its target audience. Others aren't finding value in being aware of what their friends are doing with a constant Cover Feed update. But most importantly, many users don't like Home enough to stop using the Facebook app. 

Of course, there is such a thing as the vocal minority, and when there is an uproar, the minority tends to be perceived as the voice of the crowd. However, Facebook should not ignore Home in its present state. It is not ready on Android at 2.5 stars, so why would it be ready for iOS or Windows Phone?

I would think the next step after releasing Facebook Home would be to ensure as many people can test it. This would mean the home replacement kit would need to roll out to as many devices as possible. Instead, it's limited to just the Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S III, S 4, HTC One and One X. After releasing to as many devices as possible, Facebook should roll out updates to the app, but there have been zero updates so far.

Speaking about Facebook running on iOS, product director Adam Mosseri told Bloomberg "It may or may not be Home. It could just be a lock screen." He also says Home on the iPhone might simply take design elements from Facebook Home for Android, since a complete home replacement kit is not feasible for Apple devices due to their control of the OS.

"We are integrated into the operating system with them (Apple). We have an active dialogue to do more with them," says Mark Zuckerberg on the closed nature of iOS.

However, one of the success stories surrounding Facebook Home is Chat Heads which has provided value to Facebook. Their new messenger app could bring a Quick Reply feature without diving into messaging on the iPhone. It could also capitalize on the lack of awareness surrounding notifications on Windows Phone with a Chat Head resting comfortably on-screen. But the immersion of Chat Heads is likely to be absent on iOS or Windows Phone due to the closed nature of each OS.

Yet, Facebook Home in a nutshell is not Chat Heads. It's not even social networking. What Home was meant to do is give the user a purely social experience around the clock. What Facebook has created is an ecosystem around our lives and advertises it on your smartphone's home screen. The idea of Home is an immersive, social experience which is not complementary of iOS and Windows Phone.

To put it simply, Home needs to evaluate its position in mobile before it tries to expand. Learn from the mistakes, correct them, and issue software updates. Home is no doubt an admirable effort in bringing the social media experience to our fingertips, but it's nowhere near developed enough to expand. I think that Facebook has home-work to do, or else there could be a serious risk of a renaming to Facebook Ho-Hum.

Do you think Facebook Home should jump to iOS and Windows Phone? Are you sold on the idea of a home replacement kit slathered in Facebook good-ness, or does the traditional app suit your needs? Hit the comments below and let me know what you're thinking!