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Facebook Home. Universally unpopular?
May 14, 2013 6:31 AM   Subscribe

Facebook Software Updates in Real Life: Parody [SYTL 2min 20sec] 'Facebook Updates in Real Life' illustrates that not all of the mobile user base is happy with the current 'Facebook Home' improvements.

'Facebook Home' is a mobile UI (or skin) for smartphones running the Android OS.

Launched in April 2013, 'Home' initially appeared popular with 500,000 downloads in the first nine days. Unfortunately, one month later, the software was dumped by the AT&T network due to low adoption rates.

Techcrunch called the entire exercise overzealous, suggesting that Facebook fundamentally doesn't understand how mobile users want to interact with the social networking service.

GigaOm and, various others have expressed concern that 'Home' is Facebook's biggest illustration of how the company views user privacy.
posted by Faintdreams (53 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I tried to install it when it was released but it said that it wasn't compatible with my Galaxy Nexus which is running vanilla Android 4.2.2 and never went back to see if they'd fixed that.
posted by octothorpe at 6:36 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


GigaOm: But there is a bigger worry. The phone’s GPS can send constant information back to the Facebook servers, telling it your whereabouts at any time.

That's OK. The permissions that FB said were for Home were wrapped into the main FB app rather than Home itself, so in true Oprah Winfrey style everyone gets the special privacy present.
posted by jaduncan at 6:39 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


suggesting that Facebook fundamentally doesn't understand how mobile users want to interact with the social networking service.

It seems the point of that story was more that Facebook doesn't understand Android users. They treated Android like a jailbroken iPhone, since they were all iPhone users, and ended up taking away everything that Android users liked that iPhones never had, like widgets. Like, the complaints I saw in the store weren't about privacy or the new Facebook features. They were about "where did my widgets and apps go?"
posted by smackfu at 6:40 AM on May 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


Reading that Techcrunch link, I'm finding myself irrationaly outraged that "droidfood" is a, uh, term? A thing? A black curse of a word uttered by chained Judas as the Devil Himself masticates him for eternity, crushing him into a gooey mass of sing and regret that is droidfood?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:43 AM on May 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


It seems the point of that story was more that Facebook doesn't understand Android users.

I am always moderately confused when using my wife's phone running HTC Sense because I'm used to my stock Android-running phone - the skin on top of Android that Sense provides is far less of a change than Facebook Home seems to have. I could easily see how people would be annoyed. You can't radically change the way people expect a tool to work and then be surprised that they don't like what you've done (unless, of course, it's some amazingly wonderful change - seeing a live feed of Facebook updates doesn't sound like it fits the bill).
posted by combinatorial explosion at 6:49 AM on May 14, 2013


I just came here to post what robocop is bleeding did. Where does the term even come from? Neither of the "droidfooding" articles seem to explain it.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 6:50 AM on May 14, 2013


I just came here to post what robocop is bleeding did. Where does the term even come from? Neither of the "droidfooding" articles seem to explain it.

I'll hypothesize that it's a (bad) riff on "eating your own dogfood", which has apparently been verbed to become "dogfooding": the act of using the actual software that you're building for personal use.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:53 AM on May 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Droidfooding" is horrible, "apperating system" is even worse.
posted by combinatorial explosion at 6:53 AM on May 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Probably comes from dogfooding; "eating your own dogfood" ~= using the tools you create. Generally results in better tools, except when your use cases are orthogonal to your desired user base. (c.f. Linux.)

So droidfood would probably be implying that you shouldn't write apps for Android unless you use an Android device yourself.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:54 AM on May 14, 2013


"Dogfooding" is a Microsoftism, where Windows developers run the current development version of Windows.
posted by smackfu at 6:55 AM on May 14, 2013


So, somewhat tangentially I'm looking for a new phone for my MIL and asked around on one of the android boards for something high/mid range that was cheap and decent. The tip I got was to pick up the HTC First and bypass the Facebook crap. Since it's being discontinued, it's $0.99 on AT&T right now.

It's trivially easy and it has a really nice stock android experience underneath. My one concern was whether or not it was still sending all her info off to FB if I didn't root and nuke that infestation from orbit. I'm guessing the answer is yes.
posted by envygreen at 6:55 AM on May 14, 2013


I think it's interesting that Facebook worked with HTC to create "Facebook Home", since HTC is really invested into modifying the "Android experience" with its Sense UI.

I happen to like Sense UI, and I do like HTC, since the company phones feel a little nicer in the hand than the more plasticky Samsung phones.

I sure hope this doesn't mean the beginning of the end for HTC...
posted by KokuRyu at 6:57 AM on May 14, 2013


The Droidfooding reference probably has to do with last years story about Facebook employees being asked to use Android phones more to get them to realized how sucky their client app was.
posted by octothorpe at 6:57 AM on May 14, 2013


[Figure inflated, carry on.]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:10 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


OMG How'd they read my mind just before I killed my FaceBook account?
posted by infini at 7:19 AM on May 14, 2013


[Figure inflated, carry on.]

On Australian budget night?
If there were more of us... there would be japes!

On topic, I enjoyed that SLYT. As a non-FB type it semed accurate.
posted by Mezentian at 7:25 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


It seems the point of that story was more that Facebook doesn't understand Android users.

Facebook doesn't understand users. My friend (who is in mobile user research) installed Facebook Home out of professional curiosity. When I was hanging out with him he was telling me how he was recently surprised with a homescreen wallpaper that was a picture of a girl in a bathing suit. After some digging, he figured out that the picture is the wife of one of his friends who set that as his cover image and the Facebook Home app thought this would be nice to keep my friend connected to his network. :/
posted by like_neon at 7:34 AM on May 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


Who is doing user research for Facebook?

*scrabbles through whatsitlinked*
posted by infini at 7:36 AM on May 14, 2013


I actually do like the chat bubbles in the new FB Android app. It's one of the more clever UIs that I've seen in an Android app, and arguably one of the best touch-centric UIs that I've seen anywhere.

Facebook Home was a disaster though. It didn't work very well as a launcher, and the "friend's photos as your background" thing was creep-tastic enough for me to uninstall it within an hour.
posted by schmod at 7:40 AM on May 14, 2013


"Droidfooding" is horrible, "apperating system" is even worse.

Yes. It would appear that someone meant to say "framework" but had a marketing-funded lobotomy on the way into the building.
posted by jaduncan at 7:40 AM on May 14, 2013


Facebook and HTC have teh staff who can understand users.

Zuckerberg has veto.

This is my random guess.
posted by infini at 7:41 AM on May 14, 2013


I think it's just a standard case of getting caught up in a big idea: "what if the lock screen and the home screen were the same thing?" Then they spend tons of time perfecting that idea... and it turns out a lot of users just hate the idea, and it didn't matter how well they executed it.
posted by smackfu at 7:51 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I tried to install it when it was released but it said that it wasn't compatible with my Galaxy Nexus which is running vanilla Android 4.2.2 and never went back to see if they'd fixed that.

According to the App Store online it's compatible with very few devices.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:52 AM on May 14, 2013


I don't like this part very much, but part of me is kind of glad Facebook Home is falling on its... well, face. I also kind of hope Zuckerberg is feeling a little embarrassed when he attends meetings for a while.
posted by Mooski at 7:55 AM on May 14, 2013


Wot? It's Australian Budget Night?
posted by Mister_A at 7:56 AM on May 14, 2013


Anyway, funny how things stick to Facebook whereas Google seems to have permission to try, fail, and try again. I think it's because frequent trials and failures have always been a part of the company ethos–say what you will about Google, they're not afraid to put a product or service out there and let if flop, or re-tool it or what have you. In a sense they've never really put a stake in the ground as to what Google is, (other than an ad network).
posted by Mister_A at 7:59 AM on May 14, 2013


Anyway, funny how things stick to Facebook whereas Google seems to have permission to try, fail, and try again.

That is an interesting observation. I think it's likely due to the fact that Facebook the website is all that Facebook the company is for almost everyone, whereas Google the company is a great amalgamation of sometimes very unrelated products. The experimentation is tolerated because it might only affect parts of the google user experience, whereas a Facebook redesign or other type of experimentation causes the entire Facebook experience to be different. The backlash against Google seems to have stuck around a bit more recently now that they're making everything fit with Google+ whether it makes sense to do that or not.
posted by msbrauer at 8:05 AM on May 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Facebook fundamentally doesn't understand how mobile users want to interact with the social networking service.

Facebook doesn't give a damn about how users want to interact with social media. They want to get as much money selling your info to marketers as they can before we all lose interest and move on to the next Face-Space thingie.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:06 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or until marketers wise up to the fact that Facebook's user data isn't anywhere near as valuable as everybody seems to think it is (not sure which I'd prefer to happen first).
posted by straight at 8:16 AM on May 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Who is doing user research for Facebook?

It appears that Facebook is doing the same thing Google often appears to be doing in terms of user research...looking in a mirror and asking "what do you want?"
posted by Thorzdad at 8:20 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I tried to install it when it was released but it said that it wasn't compatible with my Galaxy Nexus which is running vanilla Android 4.2.2 and never went back to see if they'd fixed that.

Yep, same with fairly recent Asus Transformer ... which we got for its broad compatibility. I work with software for a living. I wanted to check it out. Nice try, Facebook.

On topic, I enjoyed that SLYT.

Ditto. I don't know how accurate it is, but I chuckled at the Privacy Window.

until marketers wise up to the fact that Facebook's user data isn't anywhere near as valuable as everybody seems to think it is (not sure which I'd prefer to happen first).

Just give me another 2-3 months to get out of the click-fraud Internet industry entirely.

Google seems to have permission to try, fail, and try again

Google may fail constantly with tangential products, but Google Search and its ad network does not fail much. That's the only real product. They had a problem with chum SEO content for a while, but killed it pretty quickly.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:25 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't see that video as talking about Facebook Home at all -- they're talking about when Facebook changes its UI and privacy settings etc, and what that would feel like if it happened in your house.

But while we're moaning about Facebook, I'm currently a victim of a sodding A/B test on the iPhone app, so I see a godawful tabs-at-bottom implementation instead of the useful "hamburger" sidebar and chat lists. It's driving me nuts.
posted by bonaldi at 8:29 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


If Facebook switched to a Flickr-style freemium model (basic free accounts and paid premium accounts; post sporadically and follow your friends interspersed with ads, or pay $20-30 a year and get the whole shebang oriented around your needs), it'd be a lot more attractive and sustainable.

Alas, it seems committed at an essential level to the bait-and-switch, and so far it has worked; there is no way of finding your friends' non-Facebook contact details other than by asking them manually, unless they're the sort of deeply geeky compulsive customisers who have configured it to display their real email address to friends after the @facebook.com bait-and-switch, which means that as soon as you step off the ad-viewing treadmill, you're effectively excommunicated, as surely as if you rejected your sheltered Jehovah's Witness upbringing. You're free to leave with the clothes on your back and the handful of friends in your mobile phone's address book; Ted Kaczynski-style shack in the woods optional. And now they're apparently preparing to bombard their captive audience with huge full-motion video ads.
posted by acb at 8:33 AM on May 14, 2013


I'm intrigued but confused by your rant acb. What data on your friends is Facebook withholding and why is it a problem?
posted by straight at 8:44 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


A while back, Facebook gave everyone a Facebook email address and replaced whatever email address people were displaying on their profile with the Facebook one (which forwarded any email sent to it to your actual email address). The only way I discovered it was when someone emailed me and said they were surprised I was using a Facebook address since I only grudgingly use Facebook. I don't think they really announced they were doing this, and so a lot of people still have the Facebook provided email listed instead of their actual email address. It was a pretty scummy thing to do, and now if your friends haven't changed the setting to not display that Facebook address and you need their email address, you actually have to ask them for it.
posted by Orb at 9:04 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've talked to someone that was close to the Facebook Home project, it sounds like they did a lot of research on people that love Facebook and also want a better experience on mobile, but I fear the whole idea/project was about 2-3 years too late to the marketplace. A couple years ago, chances are not every heavy facebook user had a smartphone that could satisfy their needs, but by 2013, every single phone provider in the US can give you an android phone (and even iPhones) for free with a contract.

I've played with one of the HTC facebook phones, and it's kind of nice, it simplifies a bunch of stuff I found annoying in Android, but I just think there's no way someone would drop whatever high-end iPhone or Android device they have to move down to the Facebook phone, and there aren't that many people that don't have smartphones already that use Facebook heavily on their desktop.
posted by mathowie at 9:07 AM on May 14, 2013


I thought the linked video was pretty neat. And then I read this:

This video is courtesy of ExtremelyDecentFilms. It was really cool & so true, but could not share that video because of the swearing in it. So I just edited out the audio & made a cleaner version. Enjoy!

Woah, what? Who the fuck does that? Is that Ned Flander's Youtube account? Anyway, here's the actual video, with swears in and everything.
posted by The River Ivel at 9:33 AM on May 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


Orb: when I click my "about" page at Facebook, my email address (not a facebook one) is displayed. Same when I click on the "about" page of many of my contacts there--I just more people had their phone numbers visible to friends, but I get why they don't want to.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:33 AM on May 14, 2013


Since Facebook phone is essentially an entry-level phone (and I think something like 40% of the global market is "high-end" phone like iPhone 5), it's aimed at younger users essetially as their "first smartphone."

And I wonder if younger folks are still relying on Facebook as their social networking hub anymore. Facebook's userbase has always trended older (popular with middle-aged folks like me), so perhaps FB phone was doomed from the outset.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:35 AM on May 14, 2013


"apperating system" is even worse.

Man, I'd love to get an apparating system. This overpriced Floo Network thing is bullshit. I don't even have a fireplace in my house.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 9:37 AM on May 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


I stopped using Facebook several months ago simply because I don't trust them anymore. I think the comments above kind of summarize how much of a trainwreck they can cause monkeying around with settings every couple of months.

I will give the next social media bandwagon a try.

(leaning out from platform, peering down the tracks, checking watch)
posted by crapmatic at 9:37 AM on May 14, 2013


It would do FB good if it stopped pretending it was a global social network and came to terms with being a loose federation of tens of millions of hyperlocal groups. Faffing around trying to make money out of everyone at once won't work online any more than it does IRL, while it will annoy the tailfeathers off almost everyone.

What worked, once, on local newspapers? Syndicated content editorially selected by people who know their groups (why are there no FB-only cartoon strips?) , hyperlocal personal ads and classifieds, focussed local news.

Mussing with people's phone experience is not, on the whole, a recipe for mutual happiness.
posted by Devonian at 9:41 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


They treated Android like a jailbroken iPhone, since they were all iPhone users

It wouldn't surprise me that Facebook developers, faced with the pure ugliness of all that data collection, would choose the phone that gave them some limited control over what is given to their employer.

I'm afraid that if I installed the Facebook app on my Android phone, one day it would decide to share my calendar with all my contacts or announce when I'm playing Angry Birds With Friends.
posted by meowzilla at 9:42 AM on May 14, 2013


I worked for the engineering director who has been in charge of the "Facebook Phone" project when he worked at a different company. He's the guy who told me off for completing a very complex project on-time using "not enough lines of code".
posted by w0mbat at 10:26 AM on May 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


The unedited original video hasn't been altered by some random third party to remove instances of 'bad' language.
posted by crysflame at 11:34 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The toppish-end phone market in the US is odd. There might be people intrigued by the Facebook Home concept, but they're also a year or 18 months into a contract, and that intrigue isn't enough to make them pay an ETF.

Even looking beyond that barrier, the sales staff at carriers' stores, as well as at Best Buy and other bricks-and-mortar outlets, have a huge amount of influence on purchasing decisions. If they haven't been given sufficient incentive by carriers (by which I mean "cash money") then at best they'll offer a grudging welcome.

Not saying that FB Home isn't misbegotten by design; however, I am saying that the phone market is a pretty rough environment to test that design, and it's perhaps a mistake to draw strictly design- or UI-based conclusions.
posted by holgate at 11:38 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was a pretty scummy thing to do, and now if your friends haven't changed the setting to not display that Facebook address and you need their email address, you actually have to ask them for it.

Ahhh. And this is why I read about FB on mefi...for exactly this info...I had no idea. I certainly wouldn't have found out on FB....because I never go there. Honestly, is it better to have an account so no one is identity thieving you or whatever...or is it better to just have no account at all? Facebook really is just malware right?
posted by sexyrobot at 11:54 AM on May 14, 2013


Honestly, is it better to have an account so no one is identity thieving you or whatever...or is it better to just have no account at all? Facebook really is just malware right?

Better to have no account. Yes. It is the definition of malware: it is software whose sole purpose is to exploit personal data for profit, but people volunteer for it.

I don't understand why facebook users continually battle these constant intrusions into privacy and irritating changes to interface. The reason I'm usually given is so that they can get baby photos from that old friend once a year. Doesn't seem worth it to me.

But I think the real reason is so people can stalk ex/prospective lovers. It's utility as a communication tool are minuscule in comparison to its applications in nosiness and narcissism.
posted by hellslinger at 1:21 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


octothorpe: I read that story when it originally came out, and I've noticed that the Android app has only gotten worse since then.
posted by ckape at 1:30 PM on May 14, 2013


I actually do like the chat bubbles in the new FB Android app. It's one of the more clever UIs that I've seen in an Android app, and arguably one of the best touch-centric UIs that I've seen anywhere.

I also love the chatheads. However, I don't like that it means FB has access to texts I'm sending. I therefore bought Ninja sms which is the same thing minus the FB.
posted by dobbs at 2:43 PM on May 14, 2013


[Switched the video link to the original source, carry on.]
posted by cortex at 4:55 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly, is it better to have an account so no one is identity thieving you or whatever...or is it better to just have no account at all?

Unless you are famous, it is better to have no account at all. If you don't want to use Facebook, there is no reason to use it. It's best to ignore it completely.

Yes. It is the definition of malware: it is software whose sole purpose is to exploit personal data for profit, but people volunteer for it.

That is pretty much no one's definition of malware.

The platform itself ... malware? About as much as Gmail is. Facebook apps can certainly be malware, but no one uses apps unless they are insane.

I think the real reason is so people can stalk ex/prospective lovers. It's utility as a communication tool are minuscule in comparison to its applications in nosiness and narcissism.

IME, people like to broadcast their thoughts to the world, and Facebook is for people who don't want to run a Wordpress blog, or even maintain a Tumblr site. It's just like Twitter, with a bunch of extensions.

From what I've seen (and heard from teens on the bus), people who post on Facebook sincerely want responses and feedback from their friends on their postings, whether it's +1ing a baby/anniversary photo or a funny YouTube link. It is a social space for people who don't have another one like a niche community board or MetaFilter to hang out in.

Whether or not it's a good social space is the question. I find it lacking in lots of ways, but for sheer usage (number of users), it casts the widest net. If I'm hiring someone, I always post to my FB network. ALWAYS. I couldn't care less whether or not the applicant herself is on Facebook, but as a resource my large group of contacts is pretty good.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:42 AM on May 16, 2013


Malware That Drains Your Bank Account Thriving on Facebook
posted by homunculus at 5:50 PM on June 4, 2013


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