Facebook Home off to slow start on Google Play

A little more than a week after being released, Facebook’s new interface for Android smartphones, Facebook Home, has crossed the 500,000 mark for downloads on the Google Play application store.

The interface, installed the same way as smartphone app, gives users’ home screens a new look that focuses on their Facebook friends rather than their apps. Facebook Home removes users’ lock and menu screens and replaces them with status updates and photos posted by their friends.

Facebook Home was released on April 12 alongside the HTC First, the so-called Facebook phone, and it gained its 500,000th download on Google Play over the weekend.

Although 500,000 is a large number, for Facebook that is somewhat of a disappointment.

The Android Instagram app, for example, was downloaded more than 1 million times in less than 24 hours after it was released on Google Play last year, and the main Facebook app for Android has been downloaded more than 100 million times.

Adding to the disappointment is the fact that Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told Wired magazine that the social network decided to build Facebook Home rather than a smartphone because most smartphones only sell 10 million or 20 million units, which would be a tiny percentage of Facebook’s users. Zuckerberg and Facebook officials believed that Facebook Home, which can be downloaded for free, could reach more users.

Out of the users who have downloaded Facebook Home, many have not been impressed. The interface has a rating of 2 out of 5 stars on Google Play, with most users who rated the app giving it just one star.

Among the complaints: Some users said Facebook Home drains their battery and limits what they can do with their phones. Others said they simply don’t like being exposed to Facebook every time they use their device.

The upside for Facebook Home at this point could be the fact that it is only available for seven Android devices, including the yet-to-be released Samsung Galaxy S 4. The interface could gain more downloads if Facebook brings it to more smartphones as well as Android tablets.

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