Facebook Home, the social network's new Android-based UI, is now available in the Google Play store for free download.
Revealed earlier this month, Facebook Home is now available to owners of the HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S3, and Samsung Galaxy Note 2. The new HTC First smartphone, also recently released, comes preloaded with Facebook Home, while the interface will be made available for the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 at a future date, Facebook said.
Owners of other Android phones will have to wait. Tablets running Google's mobile operating system will also get access to Facebook Home at some point, the company said.
The best news for early adopters? Facebook Home doesn't have ads and won't for at least several months, according to the company.
The Home "experience," as the company bills it, comes up short of turning a handset into the full-fledged "Facebook phone" some people anticipated was being developed ahead of Facebook Home's unveiling. It's not a new mobile operating system or even a fork of Android, but it's also quite a bit more than another innocuous button to add to your phone's app launcher.
What it does is serve up Facebook, and lots of it, to devices from the moment they're turned on. Facebook Home first and foremost lives on a phone's lockscreen, delivering a stripped-down, tailored version of a user's News Feed, complete with alerts and the ability to comment on and like items as they dribble in across the touch screen.
Beyond that, Facebook has also repurposed the basic Android app launcher from the ground up, and Home also includes a messaging management system called Chat Heads.
As is par for the course for Facebook, Home has already become a controversy magnet. Mobile analyst Sascha Segan figures that Facebook Home has done mobile right with the new product. Others have raised concerns about privacy and security with Facebook Home, questioning the company about data collection and the decision to create a default setting where a Home-loaded phone provides access to a Facebook account on the lockscreen.
For what it's worth, Facebook's chief privacy officer of policy Erin Egan and chief privacy officer of products Michael Richter responded to some of those queries in a joint blog post.
Meanwhile, a recent look at the buzz on Twitter around Facebook Home by analytics firm Salorix indicated that consumers are disappointed by Facebook Home. Much of those feelings stemmed from apprehension about privacy issues. Not surprisingly, rival firms also were not impressed - Microsoft labelled Facebook Home a Windows Phone knock-off.
Now that you can download Facebook Home for free via Google Play, it looks like punters can make their own mind up about the social network's big move. Be sure to let us know what you think via the comment section below, or why not connect with us on social media? The icons at the top of the page will help you find us.