Facebook updates Android app with Cover Feed, no Home required

The social network gives its inventive twist on News Feed to some users of its standard Android application.

Facebook Home Cover Feed
Cover Feed, originally part of Facebook Home, can now be used independently as a lock screen. James Martin/CNET

Facebook is updating its Android application Thursday to provide a larger group of social network users with one of the company's most innovative creations to date: Cover Feed.

Cover Feed is an inventive twist on News Feed that previously came bundled with Facebook Home, a poorly rated social-networking software package that made Facebook the heart of select Android phones.

Now, however, Facebook users who update to the latest version of the standard Android application can set Cover Feed as their lock screen, meaning they can view a panning collection of photos and posts from their Facebook friends without having to install or use the rest of the invasive package, which includes Chat Heads and Facebook's much-maligned Android application launcher. Chat Heads, meanwhile, also can be enabled through Facebook Messenger for Android.

There is one catch: Cover Feed, sans Home, is only available to Facebook for Android users if their device is supported by Home. As of Thursday, Home works on the Samsung Galaxy S3, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, HTC One X, HTC One X+, HTC First, HTC One, Nexus 4, and Samsung Galaxy S4. Support for the latter four devices was only just introduced with the app update.

A Facebook spokesperson told CNET that, with the update, users can quickly unlock their screens to access the camera and messages from Cover Feed on Facebook for Android.

"Cover Feed has been a popular element of the Home experience, and making it available from the Facebook Android app makes it accessible for more people," the spokesperson said.

As noted above, Thursday's Facebook for Android release also comes with additional device support for people who do want the full Home software package.

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