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Facebook Home taps into social image sharing, but stumbles on image capture

59
Facebook Home for Android is an app or "skin" that replaces your home screen launcher and lock screen on compatible Android devices.

For all of the speculation about a Facebook phone, we now know the social media behemoth understood all along that it’s never been about Facebook having its own hardware. Instead the new Facebook Home for Android is a Android launcher or "skin" that aims to own your home screen and lock screen, and in turn, all of your social experiences. In so doing, Facebook has instantly transformed the role and importance of images in social media, bringing images to the forefront in a way that not even its desktop Timeline feature could.

Facebook Home: What is it?

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg made it clear that while Facebook Home taps into deep levels of Android, it’s not another mobile operating system. Once you install Facebook Home, your phone (a limited number are supported at launch, but Facebook intends to grow support across models and manufacturers quickly, and will eventually offer Facebook Home for tablets) will be transformed into a Facebook experience; it just won’t be the same phone you initially bought. Consider Facebook Home a fresh paint job, with the furniture rearranged to bury the native Google Android experience and instead let all things Facebook social bubble up to the top layers, a finger swipe away.

Facebook Home for Android is an app or "skin" that replaces your home screen launcher and lock screen on compatible Android devices. Primary to the experience is the Cover Feed, a rotating display of status updates, page links and photo stories, with captions and links appearing on the top of the image.

 Images are the central element of Facebook Home's cover feed...
 ...but Home currently offers no direct imaging capabilities.

Here, it’s all about the images: Facebook Home zooms into a section of an image, finding the center of action and letting it take over the entire display. At least, that’s what it appeared to do in the samples shown on phones at the event; Facebook representatives could not confirm how, exactly, the app’s algorithm works to detect where to zoom on images, let alone what minimum resolution or other image characteristics will allow a photo to appear in your Cover Feed.

By exposing images posted to Facebook in such a visceral, in-your-face way, images become central to the post. In fact, images will likely define any given post more so than the pithy status update or amusing caption that goes along with it. The image, and not the words, take center stage.

Because of this, a likely side-effect will be that social media users may actually rethink the images they post, and how they’re going to be seen. This isn’t to say that people won’t continue to post drunken antics and embarrassing photos to Facebook. But perhaps, if Facebook Home takes off, the new role of images will help push users to think more about the images they’re capturing -- and sharing.

Facebook is no longer about low-resolution, mediocre images. The truth is, it hasn’t been for a while -- after all, the company bumped the resolution of its images from 720 pixels to 2048 pixels in late 2010. But it’s taken time for consumers -- and the devices they own on a two year contract plan -- to catch up to that higher-resolution reality. And now, it only makes sense that this new image exposure could have an impact on what we post and share on the service.

Facebook Home in the Social Landscape

At the launch event, Zuckerberg made a point about how smartphones are replacing traditional computers, a reality that lay behind Facebook’s decision to refocus its energy on mobile platforms in 2012. The prevalence of smartphones and exponential growth expected in the coming years is only part of the story, though, of why Facebook Home makes sense. And why even tighter integration with Instagram than exists with Facebook Home feels, well, inevitable.

A few stats to consider. According to a March 2013 IDC study (granted, one sponsored by Facebook), 53 percent of Facebook users 18 to 44 years old use the social network to share and post photos. As of 2012, Facebook reported its users were posting over 250 million images daily. Yes, daily. Meanwhile, over at Instagram (which Facebook purchased last year for a final pricetag of $741 million), another 40 million photos are posted daily.

That’s a lot of images being shared among us.

 Commenting is easily done directly from  the home screen.
 All your usual apps can still be accessed through the app tray.

While Facebook Home’s central positioning of the Cover Feed is transformative for sharing images, the company missed a huge opportunity to transform how smartphone users capture and upload images to the service. Although Facebook Camera speeds up capturing and sharing images on Apple’s iOS, that functionality didn’t transfer to Facebook Home.

While Facebook didn’t provide us with any official comments on future directions or why camera enhancements were missing, a company representative noted that the focus of the version 1.0 release was home screen, lock screen and chat. Facebook’s Zuckerberg said there would be monthly updates to Facebook Home, and while I wouldn’t expect every one of those to offer groundbreaking new features, I’d be surprised if Facebook didn’t introduce tighter integration with a smartphone’s camera in the coming months.

That would make sense. For one, smartphone cameras are quickly getting good enough that they’re replacing point-and-shoot cameras as consumers’ camera of choice. The best camera is the one you have with you, and your phone is, well, always with you. 

For another, it makes total sense for Facebook to find ways to streamline image capture and sharing directly to Facebook or Instagram, without specifically launching a vertical app. Getting rid of vertical app silos is the whole point of Facebook Home, according to Zuckerberg. And anything that makes it easier to capture and share will simply help bolster Facebook’s already gonzo-sized imaging traffic. The current iteration of Facebook Home has no camera integration; the photos tab on the app launcher simply taps into your phone’s camera gallery, and lets you pick images to upload to the service. 

The bigger question for the future is whether Facebook will get competition in its fight for controlling your social world. Could a Twitter-driven or improved, Google-driven experience be far behind? Only time will tell.

Comments

Total comments: 59
cluening

I guess it is FB's counter move as more an more real OSes are taking over in this regard.
Windows Phone, iOS e.g.

And Apple actually has the possibilty to make FB totally redundant. The already allow hardware based picture sharing, messaging, video chatting.
Your idevice IS actually some sort of Facebook.
Only thing missing: some sort of more integrated link sharing with a preview function- and maybe a personal profile. But both very reduced as FB already gets very annoying in sharing every thought and making ANY life event sharable.
But integration of whatsapp, twitter, facebook and instagram & co. in iOS makes it already very versatile, if you want to share...
Next step surely will be to enhance the sharing experience a bit more in the direction of keeping Apple users together.

Looking forward to it, if you believe it or not. Everything better than FB.

1 upvote
riknash

I'm not so emotionally insecure that I need Facebook to define my social network. I'd rather meet people in person and develop a physical presence with them and in that light, share my photographs as I have chosen. My ego doesn't need to be stroked by way of Facebook Home stealing images from myself or from others without a specific agreement for each image.

If I have any say in the matter, Facebook will never be an app or a launcher on my smartphone.

1 upvote
skytripper

Facebook own my home screen? NEVER!!!

1 upvote
ewelch

I dumped Instagram when Facebook bought it.

Like people thought AOL was the Internet, so now people who will like this phone THINK Facebook is the Internet.

1 upvote
Deleted pending purge

I wonder, how long before you won't be able to switch off your camera at all...
Will we ever (or do we) know where our text and pictures are going, besides where they've been sent? How much of the phone functions are actually never advertised or known, but may nevertheless be active?
Everybody seems to be vehemently against encroachments into our privacy, and yet, the craze about "social networking" somehow plays right into the Orvellian version of the future.
I'm not trying to fire up any paranoic ideas, but this FB thing somehow got me thinking.
Another association comes from the "Golden Rule" which states, "whosoever has the Gold, makes the Rules"...
"Curiouser and curiouser" (Alice)

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Mr Lumière

What I find even more disturbing is people freaking out about facebook and privacy but have only good words for google and android. Facebook has nothing on google, google is the most orwelian platform ever and everybody seems to be ok with that but if facebook make one of your picture public, a picture YOU put on their website, people freak out. Facebook scares me but google terifies me, android and chrome are all about one company owning an privately sharing you life with the highest bidder, not only the things you activelly share EVERYTHING you do on the web or with your phone/tablet/computer. With google fiber they will soon know and control everything from the hardware to the software layers, it's crazy scary.

Yet, netizens just love google, go figure.

0 upvotes
Thorbard

The difference between facebook and google is that facebook openly admits that its users are being used by advertisers ("if you're not paying for a service, you're the product being sold") but google at least tries to be open and honest (regularly publishing details of FOI requests and the like).

Its a subtle difference, but I know which I trust more!

1 upvote
ziggy25

Great now all you need to do be spammed by the facebook ads is to switch your phone ON.

7 upvotes
Peter McNeill

Brilliant Mark Z, copy what windows phone had been doing for 2 yrs. and market it as an innovative Farcebook product. No wonder the kid is rich.

3 upvotes
KHemmelman

I realize this sounds cool for some folks, but really? You're going to become even more of a slave to Facebook? Try lifting your head up from your phone for more than 5 seconds and look at the real world! I think you'll find a lot of wonderful things to experience! Thankfully this "spyware app" can't be installed on my DSLR, because I just don't do the whole "cell phone addiction" thing where I have to "share" the most trivial and insignificant parts of my life to the world every 2 minutes. (As if anyone is really interested in that!) And won't something like this app totally eat your battery life?

2 upvotes
guoziyiChina

Fbook cant be used in China :(

1 upvote
ryanshoots

Lucky buggers! They might actually accomplish something with the time they save by not telling each other the minutia of their lives.

2 upvotes
Mr Dude

Actually, Facebook can be used in China at certain places, I was in Shanghai last year and could access it on wifi on the street and at my hotel. In other places it doesn't seem to work. weird, but to be honest i only used FB in China because I could...

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
HubertChen

A mobile phone's main purpose always has been sharing. Right from the beginning when all you could do was voice call. So having facebook adding features to smart phones making sharing easier is commendable. What makes me very concerned is that this Software only works on some models. That would indicated they hack deep into the OS, which would make this whole thing less reliable. Also the diffuse language is scary. It is not an app and it is not an OS. So what is it? Why not be clear on this ?

This limitation means it will not run on Chinese mobile phones. Using Facebook in China is already difficult because it is blocked by the Great China Firewall. Sadly facebook itself is now adding to the hurdles of using facebook in China. Besides hurting their users they are hurting themselves by making it easier for the big Chinese Software Giants to break into this segment.

0 upvotes
HubertChen

Down below there is a post from Lars Rehm explaining that Facebook Home is an "Android Launcher" with more details ... Still very strange that if this SW is using existing Android OS APIs why is it hardware specific ? It really should not be in such case and still indicates non clean programming, as other Launchers appear not to be hardware dependent!

0 upvotes
Tan68

restricting the software to some phones probably has to do with 'experience'.

it is an over-used word in this context, but people with phones that have less grunt just might choke on this FB thing.

too slow processor, too little memory, screen not large enough to display live chat heads in a useable way. if i loaded this stuff on my old phone, i would expect to have a poor.. experience.

FB wants happy experiences for people. i am sure.

i suppose it really is a launcher/skin.. at first, i wondered if it wasn't just an application that is loaded at boot and then always runs in the background replicating the look of HTC Sense or whichever...

0 upvotes
HubertChen

@ Tan68
Thanks for your reply. It could be as you say. If so, the choice of disguising minimum system requirements as a compatibility list is very unfortunate and is slowing down distribution of facebook home and simply is causing confusion instead of helping understanding. Lets hope this is not the case or facebook is setting a very bad example for application specifications.

0 upvotes
Mr Lumière

A mobile phone main purpose has always been majung phone calls on the go actually.

0 upvotes
HubertChen

@ Lumière
Agreed. And isn't a phone call about sharing ? Like where you are, when you arrive home, what you are doing, your feelings for someone, etc ... ? Facebook home just makes sharing using other media easier.

0 upvotes
cluening

Well, that makes as much sense as saying life is about sharing EVERY thought. It is not, at least not in the FB regard.
I will not call people to tell them "look what I am eating". Hooray.
It is nice to have some more toys on a smart phone, but most of it is just another waste of time. Look at emails 10 years ago - the same nonsense in the attachments.
If FB ceased to exist, nobody would miss it. Whatsapp and the sort already took over as being more effective in really adressing the audience you want to stay in touch with.
FB is like loudly talking in an empty room and other people passing by and looking through the empty door.

0 upvotes
Ahmet Aydogan

For the folks who use it to stay in touch with family and a few close friends, FB has some functionality at the cost presenting information to company with utterly questionable business practices. For the rest, it is nothing more than a colossal waste of time and resources.

6 upvotes
robneil

Hear, hear!

0 upvotes
Hans Stuhrmann

Watch out... uploading and sharing images on facebook means to give away extensive usage rights for free

Would you sign the following excerpt with somebody that just 'shows' your pictures on a web site? They are already making business with our content.

Excerpt from facebook 'Statement of Rights and Responsibilities' that we all sign:

'For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.'

4 upvotes
graybalanced

Let's be realistic. That language is probably used on all of the sites you have willing posted your photos on. Most of it is necessary for the site to do what it does.

Would you post your photos on the site with these terms? "...you grant us a license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such content on the Web Site for the purposes of providing the Services, promotional, and/or display activities. This license exists only for as long as your content for the Services remains on the Web Site..."

Those are the terms of DPReview. Now, DPReview's terms are slightly better than Facebook's because DPReview limits its usage to providing site services, but otherwise the language is almost the same. And DPReview uses the word "promotional." Do you trust how they interpret that word with respect to your images?

Not defending Facebook in the least (I don't trust them either), just encouraging intelligent discussion of terms.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
HubertChen

The limitation of purpose of using the images in dpreview is important and missing in facebook's term. It is the difference if the service provider can make money of your IP or not without paying you a royalty fee. Hey if someones uses my images and pays me money, I am happy. But if guys who already swim in money make money with my images and do not share the profit I feel taken advantage off.

0 upvotes
Tan68

Hubert, if people use your images to make money and those people don't offer a 'thanks', you should feel altruistic and sleep well knowing you have helped someone out.

if i ever had a picture worth money.. why shouldn't i let them have it? i wouldn't be able to successfully market it myself. it would just languish. why not give it to people who can use it to make money. otherwise, i would be selfish.

;^)

1 upvote
HubertChen

@ Tan68
I am answering assuming you are serious: What you are suggesting is not balanced. If facebook would make profits on IP developed by their users and would not share it, it would be selfish and not altruistic. Over time this would result in resentment of its users, which is not a healthy relationship between user and service provider. Sharing profit on IP would instead be Win / Win. Both parties benefit, so both parties will continue to enjoy the relationship. I hope this clears it up. Or in other words. If the quote of the contract terms above is correct, facebook would simply snatch the users IP without compensation, which could be considered unethical conduct and is unbecoming of a service provider. Such unethical conduct could be the source of some of the resentment versus facebook that is surfacing in other posts in this thread. This is even worse, as facebook is setting example on how to do business and many smaller business will simply copy such behavior.

0 upvotes
Poss

Great! Now I can waste ALL my time on FB !

4 upvotes
thorkilry

Shareholders think it is a good move?
Now we can have commercials on frontpage..lol
FB+, GOOG -, APPL -
SSU - too, but that because they are neighbors of North Korea.

2 upvotes
Camediadude

On the front page of dpreview there are no less than 5 articles highlighting various connect stories about facebook, instagram or iphones.

2 upvotes
dpmaxwell

That's what pays the bills.

1 upvote
Lars Rehm

Enough? Too many? Not enough?

3 upvotes
Camediadude

For some perhaps not enough, but for me even one story about any of those declining giant fads is one too many! (I know, I know, you can turn off connect news, but some of the news I actually like).

Maybe I am in the minority, and people love these stories, beats me. But, do what you got to do I guess. Doesn't mean I won't complain like an old codger at times, so perhaps just ignore my occasional rants! But the fact that those of us here sourpusses are reacting at all is theoretically a good sign for dpreview / connect (shrug).

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
cordellwillis

Thank you Camediadude. I did not realize I can turn off the connect thing. On my way to do so...

0 upvotes
jm67

Ugh. Yes, I'm the only guy on the planet who's not a fan of facebook.

11 upvotes
Poss

Count me in mate.

4 upvotes
robneil

And me

0 upvotes
Ed_arizona

so who told you to use it?

0 upvotes
dpmaxwell

Hmmm... well considering how crummy facebook's Android app is, I don't have very high hopes for this.

Comment edited 7 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
skytripper

The thought that people may be willing to turn over control of their mobile phones to a thoroughly unscrupulous company like Facebook is very disturbing. I know that most people aren't very smart, but I'll be shocked if they are this stupid!

9 upvotes
Lars Rehm

Well, not sure if they're any worse then Apple or Google...

4 upvotes
dpmaxwell

True, but at least with Apple and Google you can integrate email, messaging and some other things. They create a kind of ecosystem that at least adds some kind of return for sharing all your private data with them. Ostensibly, Apple and Google will make money selling you music, software, movies, and even hardware, so they have a motivation to maintain the trust relationship with users. The only thing I can see that facebook does with all this is use it for marketing.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
zaurus

Google and Apple's main revenue sources are many and all of them legitimate.

Facebook's business model is to try to assume full ownership of and sell their users content.

0 upvotes
HubertChen

Facebook is also providing unique value. Lots of companies stay in touch with their users through product pages. We are one of those companies and I have to say it works exceptionally well. Facebook has helped us to grow our business and to create products that provide exactly what our customers are looking for. Good for them is good for us. These services are provided for free and while doing so they snatch the user's behavior and offer user profiled advertisement. To me this is actually win / win. I get great service for free and the advertisement I am shown actually interests me and thus is no bother or as a company it is an advertising platform that can reach my customers precisely without much loss. So all in all, I think facebook is cool and I see no difference in what Apple or Google are doing in their services.

0 upvotes
dpmaxwell

You see no difference, eh? No difference whatsoever? Interesting.

Think maybe your view as a business that benefits from facebook's data mining maybe skews your opinion?

0 upvotes
zaurus

Google provides an infrastructure to assist businesses including Google Apps, Pages, Communities, hosting, analytics, to name a few.

Facebook provides only a "modernized" version of identity harvesting and sell out -- just like email harvesters provided for spammers, who were in turn hired by marketeers.

We all know how fads like spamming were restrained. And even the typical, less-than-30-seconds-of-attention-span Facebook user will soon get it.

So enjoy it and profit while you can, HubertChen.

0 upvotes
HubertChen

My point was that facebook also provides an infrastructure assisting people, families and business alike. That is a good thing. There are also many things I do not like about facebook. With all the people hacking on facebook I thought it would be beneficial to readers to not only see the bad side but see the good side as well. And I found it strange that Apple and Google is not given such harsher scrutiny that facebook is subjected to. I see really not much difference in their business motivations and actions.

@ dpmaxwell: Please be more specific.

0 upvotes
unknown member
By (unknown member) (Apr 5, 2013)

As I understand it, Facebook Home is basically another skin. Since most Android phones already have a skin running over the OS, that makes this a skin running on a skin running on Android. Since it will only run on hardware that is blazingly fast just to get reasonable performance, I'd say there is something to be said for maintaining a little more control how your OS is butchered after the fact, but that flies in the face of how Android is designed. At least this waste of resources is voluntary.
Back on topic, does the author of this article really think there is anything in the world that will motivate some people to actually process any thought when using Facebook? Facebook is the dumping ground for the mental diarrhea of most of its users. Making pictures more important will probably make things worse as people make a concerted effort to entertain or be different....or continue not thinking. One day I might have to delete my Facebook account altogether.

3 upvotes
Lars Rehm

with regard to the skins: Every Android phone has a so-called launcher that could be described as the "desktop" or UI of your phone. Nexus devices use the original Android launcher, HTC uses Sense, Samsung uses TouchWiz and there is a range of third-party launchers available in the app store. Home is the same thing. When you install it it replaces the launcher that is currently on the phone. So there are no skins running on top of each other.

2 upvotes
ET2

It's what we call launcher in Android. No, theoretically it won't be any slower than other launcher that runs on your own phone. It doesn't run on top of other launcher. It's a launcher by itself. Only one launcher is active at one time. It shouldn't be slower, theoretically (given how good the programming is).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Android_launchers

0 upvotes
ET2

oh Lars Rehm beat me while I was typing ..

3 upvotes
unknown member
By (unknown member) (Apr 5, 2013)

Then Gizmodo should publish a retraction.
"Other features, like the Cover Feed carousel, will max out your phones internals, too. And don't forget, all this integration is going to be running on top of other skins like TouchWiz and Sense. The amount of horsepower you need to keep all of that chugging merrily along is not for the faint of processor."
http://gizmodo.com/5993656/why-your-shitty-android-phone-wont-get-facebook-home?tag=Facebook-Home

0 upvotes
ET2

Gizmodo probably don't know what they are babbling about. There is a default Android launcher by google (such as on Nexus devices) but even that is just a launcher. Samsung and HTC ship phones ship with their own launchers.

You can replace all of them (easily) by third party launchers . Try installing for example Go launcher

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gau.go.launcherex&hl=en

Don't worry nothing will happen to your phone. You can disable (or make it non-default or uninstall) it and then you will get back your original launcher that shipped with your phone (with all the short cuts and everything intact)

You can call these skins running on top of each other, but that's not what they are. These are launchers (desktip UI) that run separately -- only one at a time -- not one on top of other. That claim doesn't even make sense. How do you run one thing on top of something else? It makes no sense. And it's not true anyway,.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Lars Rehm

http://connect.dpreview.com/post/4297268707/facebook-phone-comes-to-fruition

In the third picture of our article from yesterday you can see what happens when you launch Home the first time. You have to select the launcher you want to start your phone with.

1 upvote
Bill Bentley

I only keep my FB account active now for when I want to prostitute myself and "Like" some company in order to obtain a coupon or discount.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm

in that case I would not recommend installing Home :-)

0 upvotes
HubertChen

@ howardroark
We have a facebook page with a reasonably sized community ( 2k) and together we solve technical problems and develop new product features. Very creative and practical indeed. Facebook is a service. The quality of the content depends on the people who post, not on the service provider.

@ Lars Rehm,
Thanks for clearing up the wishy washy of the original Article of what Facebook Home is technically speaking!

0 upvotes
HubertChen

@ Lars Rehm regarding Launcher
If Android Home is a Launcher and Android supports different Launchers ( one at a time ) as part of its API, it is still weird why Facebook Home would be hardware dependent. Other Launchers appear not to be hardware dependent but instead would run on a phone which properly runs Android. Thus it raises suspicion about non clean programming with consequences such as by installing Facebook Home to your phone you open doors to reliability and security issues.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
tkbslc

No thanks.

9 upvotes
Total comments: 59
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