I’ve been rather silent of late.
I never want to actually force myself to write here on Mobile Industry Review. It’s far too easy to get stuck into the churnalism world of cutting and pasting press releases to make yourself feel like you’re doing the right thing.
When I feel like I’ve nothing to write, I have to work hard to avoid sitting in front of the keyboard and knocking out tripe.
So I’ve been letting my view on Facebook Home bubble away. I’m now ready to pronounce… that I think it’s a fantastic concept. I am particularly keen on the little chat bubbles and the manner in which Facebook have implemented the persistent yet backgrounded interactivity.
First, though, the flaw. I only had to see the first few snaps of some of the keynote coverage to recognise (then affirm later on) that Facebook Home is primarily for young’uns. Young people. Folk with nothing better to do than continually live their lives by documenting the experience rather than actually simply experiencing it. It’s a different perspective that many folk over the age of 30 simply don’t understand.
I do actually think that some of the younger people I know actually do things so they can Facebook or Instagram them. I caught one, the other week, exclaiming that, “We should go on the London Eye [Ferris Wheel] because it’ll be a great photo.”
What the individual meant is that they’ll spend 90% of the ride trying to get the right shot and immediately liveblogging the queue, before interacting with friends half way around the world, sharing the event. They’ll spend the other 10% looking and then worrying that they’re not capturing enough of the experience and further, worrying that their “friends” following them live from Sydney, Chicago and Hull aren’t getting enough updates.
Those are the type of friends you need for the basic premise of Facebook Home to work.
I’ve two Facebook accounts. One setup at the urging of my wife (“Now we are married I can’t have you boring our [my] friends with stuff about mobile all the time.”) and the other my original proper account.
Neither, I’m sorry to say, provides the level of entertainment I think I need for Facebook Home to work effectively.
My friends simply don’t post enough “news”.
An average day will see 3 new items added into the stream.
So I either need to get some new friends, demand the existing ones change their service level or simply do without the Home updates.
I suppose with even an average of 3 updates, the wallpaper would effectively change regularly.
But… my friends aren’t good enough! Not all of their updates come with photos! Ah dear.
I suspect, then, that Facebook Home is aimed at the youthful masses who take huge (and understandable) joy from sharing everything and participating in their huge virtual communities continuously.
I’m particularly interested to see just how these users adopt the platform — and whether or not it’s something that’s likely to make me want to use Facebook more. I think the chat functionality could very well draw me and a lot of others to it.
Now, though, it’s time for me to wallow in the collective pity of the mobile world. How rubbish is it, that we were (I think, universally?) pretty impressed by the Facebook Home interface and user experience?
I was delighted with it. Seriously delighted. But at the same time, completely dismayed. Facebook’s achievement with their UI (however unproven) is a frustrating reminder that innovation has stagnated terribly in the Apple Era.
Luckily I think we’re well on our way out of the Apple Era… and into another. I’m not sure which, yet. Facebook certainly has a chance.
Nowhere, dear reader, NOWHERE, is it written that the manufacturer of the hardware has to specifically define the user interface experience. Nowhere.
I know we’ve all been brainwashed by Jobs dancing on stage saying (words to the effect of), “anyone serious about software builds their own hardware.”
Yes. I get that. This doesn’t mean they need govern the front-end user experience. Indeed I think the most successful platforms in the future will get out of the way and let the user buy and define their own interface.
Right now the UI is linked directly to the platform. You need to change devices to get a different one, generally. Facebook Home is one of the latest examples of a next generation viewpoint: The actual platform doesn’t matter. How long until you’ll be able to subscribe to different Facebook Home interfaces, iterated daily? Or buy a particular user interface like you would a theme for your phone? That will rock.
In the meantime, congratulations Facebook. Good job for thinking outside the box. Nice implementation. Inspired. Every success and let’s see how things go.