Do you want to give Facebook Home a try a few days before its official release? A beta has been leaked by the folks at MoDaCo and, while not all the features work, it’s a great opportunity to see what all the fuss is/may be about.
The “suite” involves updated versions of the Facebook app, Facebook Messenger and the Home launcher APK itself, the former two of which can be safely installed over your current versions. It’s important to note that the leaked version only supports devices with a maximum resolution of 1280×768, which precludes the Sony Xperia ZL and upcoming HTC One (for now).
It appears that the most intriguing part of Facebook Home, Chat Heads, has not been implemented in this beta version, but the Cover Feed sequence works quite well. The Facebook Home settings is also worth digging into, as it allows you to alter how frequently the fore- and background data is updated. By default, background data (the stuff inside the Facebook app) is updated every 30 minutes, while the Cover Feed content is updated every 15 minutes. We’ll be curious to see whether those aggressive settings negatively affect battery life going forward.
The Home launcher is also surprisingly smooth, and feels like a very natural extension of my workflow. The main issue I have is that Facebook attempts to bury as much of Android’s legacy functionality as possible; you must swipe down from the top of the screen to expose the notification bar and then again to expand it; and there are no spots for native Android widgets. As someone who relies on both features pretty extensively — as I’m sure most users do — this is going to be something of an issue.
Nevertheless, Home is an interesting first step towards a fully-formed Facebook experience on Android, for better or worse.
Head to MoDaCo to download the three necessary APKs.