Replacing your home launcher

The news world is a buzz with Facebook’s Home (check out the background video).

When I first heard about Home, I thought wow thats really smart… Now with some more time, I’m actually impressed with Home. The guardian shares my thoughts…

…what did Zuckerberg say on Thursday? “We’re not building an operating system. We’re building something that’s a whole lot deeper.” That’s exactly congruent with what Dediu said. Quite possibly what the Facebookers were told matched what they were already thinking. Google’s Android has the advantage that because Google makes its source code available, it can be tweaked endlessly by hardware manufacturers (such as HTC) and software companies (like Facebook). And so, the Facebook phone.

Back to Zuckerberg again: “The home screen is the soul of your phone. It sets the tone. We feel it should be deeply personal.” And: “It’s putting people first in your phone.” Sure, but it also shows Facebook which people you do and don’t pay attention to, by whether you bat away messages from them (useful for its news feed). And it knows what you’re looking at.

And for some people, the idea of those two being so closely linked will be attractive. Don’t forget that as Sir Tim Berners-Lee remarked to John Naughton recently, “there are 200 million people in the world who think Facebook is the internet”. Some people really love using Facebook.

Facebook Home is a launcher and there is a number of them on Android. Most users stick with the stock launcher aka Samsung’s Touchwiz and HTC’s Sense, but they are easily installed without rooting. Now to be fair, in my experience HTC’s Sense was much more flexible about allowing another launcher. Samsung’s touchwiz still bleeds through when pressing certain buttons. End of the day launchers are a great feature of Android! Although its important to know and realise how much data flows through the launchers and what Facebook could learn about you. Of course HTC, Orange, Tmobile, Samsung, etc already benefit from this data already!

I personally use Nemus Launcher on my HTC one X and Samsung Tab 7+ and enjoy its speed, lightness and simple gui. If you want more complex launchers check out Regina 3D. Windows phone 7/8’s gui is copied in Launcher 7.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.