Facebook’s announcement of its new ‘Home’ system for Android phones drew mixed reactions from technology experts last night - with some voicing concerns over privacy and advertising.
Apple iPhone users also look set to be left out.
The new screen will be available as an app for Android phones from April 12 in the U.S., with other countries to follow - turning the background screens on phones into rolling feeds of Facebook posts.
A Facebook-branded phone from HTC will offer the function built in - with Mark Zuckerberg claiming that the new Home app is an evolutionary step for phones, beyond “apps” and towards “friends”.
The new app, available for HTC and Samsung smartphones to begin with, will mean Facebook posts greet phone users when they pick up their devices - and posting, sharing and commenting will be easy, even without opening an app.
"Everything is full-screen and incredibly visual, really looking nothing like Android," said TechCrunch.
Reactions to the new “family of apps” were divided, with some pointing out that Home could lead to serious privacy concerns, and that Apple users would miss out - and others saying that the move made perfect sense for Facebook.
“"In introducing Facebook home on Thursday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the company was building it first for Android,” said technology blog AllThingsD’s Ina Fried. “But, in reality, Facebook really can't do many of the same things for the iPhone.”
Zuckerberg said that an iPhone version would likely be hampered by the fact that Apple wants to "own the whole experience", and would not comment whether Home would arrive on iPhone within the next two years.
“Facebook already has an incredible presence on mobile. It’s the most-used application on your phone,” said TechCrunch. “ And of Facebook’s more than 1 billion active users, 680 million are active on mobile. It only makes sense for Facebook to build something that takes better advantage of this major shift in computing.”
TechCrunch also praised the new “chat heads” function - which means that friends faces (the “chat heads”) pop up on screen with text messages and Facebook messaging.
Even Google seemed positive about the new software - which works as a “launcher” within its own free Android operating system.
“This latest collaboration demonstrates the openness and flexibility that has made Android so popular,” said the search giant in a statement. “And it’s a win for users who want a customized Facebook experience from Google Play — the heart of the Android ecosystem — along with their favorite Google services like Gmail, Search and Google Maps.”
LiveScience pointed out that having posts on phones’ lock screens could pose privacy concerns. “Facebook Home brings your newsfeed to your phone’s lock screen, which means that theoretically anyone who grabs your phone can access your Facebook account. Exposing your news feed makes it that much easier for others to obtain personal information about you.”
“There are no ads in this yet, I’m sure that one day there will be,” said Mark Zuckerberg in response to questioning from technology site The Verge.
"An app called Coverfeed overhauls the home screen and the lock screen, giving you updates on what your friends are doing without you having to launch an app, or even unlock your phone — and you'll get ads in all the same places,” said The Verge.
"Notifications are sorted by friend, rather than app — it says when your friend is doing something, rather than letting you know that an app has something new for you. Facebook wants to make your phone a lot more like your news feed."