Facebook Home launched about a month ago, and while the company has already seen nearly 1 million downloads of the app and increased engagement on Facebook from the users who have it, the app still has only a two star review on the Google Play store and some users seem frustrated.
In a session with reporters at Facebook’s headquarters Thursday, Facebook engineers outlined some planned changes and additiions to the Home app for Android in an effort to address some of the low reviews, including a way for users to keep their apps from getting reorganized during the Home download, an easier way to start conversations with friends via Chat Heads, and clearer instructions on how to use the app. My colleague Kevin Tofel wrote a more extensive review of the Facebook Home app for Android earlier this month.
Facebook Home will be updated on Thursday, but those are mainly bug fixes and performance improvements. The company said the app organization and Chat Head improvements will likely come within a few months. It’s an interesting move for Facebook to preview coming changes that don’t have timetable yet, and might indicate that the comapny wants to quell concerns about Home from the users who’ve tried it.
Facebook declined to provide data on active users of Home, so while a million people have downloaded it, it’s still unclear how many of those people continued to use it. But Cory Ondrejka, VP of mobile engineering for Facebook, said that of people who have downloaded Home (and these numbers exclude owners of the HTC First phone), overall engagement with Facebook products has increased by 25 percent, and that Chat Heads has increased use of Facebook Chat by 7 percent and messages sent by 10 percent.
“We have just about a million downloads on home,” he said. “It’s very much in line with our expectations.”
Ondrejka responded to the average two star review in the Google Play store, saying that the reviews tended to split among five star reviews and one star reviews, with most of the one star complaints coming from people who were annoyed by the re-organization of their apps on their main screen, and people who wanted easier ways to start conversations with their friends in Chat Heads from the cover feed. The comapny is also looking to add a feature that internally is called “Blues Clues,” which shows people around the app and instructs them on using different features.
“The five star reviewiers are pretty outspoken, saying things like, ‘We love what cover feed is doing,’” he said. “But we’ve spent a lot of time diving through the one star ratings.”