Monday, April 15, 2013

Facebook Home, HTC First Smartphone, & Privacy Concerns

Facebook Home was unveiled, by Mark Zuckerberg, on April 4, 2013. It is basically a user interface (UI) designed for Android smartphones to replace home screens on Android mobile devices.

As per Mark Zukerberg, Facebook Home “is designed around people, rather than apps”. With Facebook Home activated on your smartphone, your home screen becomes a cover feed displaying updates from your Facebook Newsfeed. It acts like an automatic slideshow with users being able to interact with their updates.

With FB Home, you can now get notifications, not only from FB, but others apps like Gmail and other social networks. And finally, Chat Heads is a messaging system, via Facebook, which allows users to interact with friends via SMS messages. Though FB Home is your main screen, you can get to your other apps, however, it’s one extra step.

Facebook Home comes pre-loaded on HTC First, a phone specifically designed to provide an optimal user experience with Home. Though, the Facebook Home App is available for download on Android devices via Google Play. The HTC First is a mid-level smartphone with a 4.3-inch multi-touch capacitive display, equipped with a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB RAM, and weighs 124 grams. It has a 5 MP rear camera and a 1.6 MP front-facing camera. The battery life of the HTC First smartphone is approximately 14 hours. The HTC First is not designed to compete with premium smartphones like the Apple iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S4, rather it's meant to be an affordable mobile phone, which is exclusively available through AT&T.

Check the video below to see the HTC smartphone specs and Facebook Home in action on the HTC First:


When talking about Facebook, one has to raise the question regarding privacy concerns. In the past, Facebook has faced numerous complaints with regards to user’s privacy. For users who use Facebook Home as their main screen, given that Facebook Home will constantly be on, it raises the concern that advertisers will be able to track FB user’s every actions as they interact.

Many Android apps today get access to a lot of the data on the user’s smartphones, however, it doesn’t stop Facebook from data-mining FB user’s information so advertisers and Facebook can benefit from it. I know many users, especially those who are addicted to Facebook, will enjoy this new user interface. I don’t know about you, but I’m not too comfortable letting Facebook Home take over my smartphone and my life.

So I will not be using this app. In response to user’s privacy concerns, Facebook responded “doesn’t change anything related to your privacy settings on Facebook, and your privacy controls work the same with Home as they do everywhere else on Facebook”. Here is the link to the Facebook’s Official Response to Privacy Concerns.