Facebook updates Home, says downloads reach 1M

The social network says its "Facebook phone" app -- which stumbled out of the gate -- has been installed nearly 1 million times. The company also announces the release of an update for the software.

Josh Miller/CNET

MENLO PARK, Calif. -- Facebook is releasing a new version of Facebook Home, the social network's software suite for Android, the company announced at its headquarters here Thursday.

The new product will go live on Google Play at 1 p.m. Thursday as an update to the Facebook Android app, but users probably won't see it till about 3 p.m., Facebook said.

Facebook VP of Engineering Cory Ondrejka said the company is planning on several improvements to the product in the coming weeks, but today's update will have bug fixes. Also, for any Android devices that don't support Home, Facebook won't block users who want to transfer Home -- in a process called sideloading -- from supported devices. More than 10,000 people were using this method to get Home on unsupported devices shortly after Home launched, Facebook said.

Facebook Home's reception has been less than stellar so far. It's been installed nearly 1 million times since release, according to Facebook. The social network itself, however, has more than 1 billion users. Home has also been collecting negative reviews.

The company's partnership with HTC doesn't seem to have worked out so well either. AT&T is selling the HTC "Facebook phone" for 99 cents , a month after it launched.

Facebook Director of Product Adam Mosseri said the company has taken complaints from users into consideration as it moves forward with updates to the product.

"The clear signal is: missing launching features, and not being able to rearrange the apps," he said.

In the future, Facebook promises improvements to Chat Heads, like adding a swipe movement to bring up your buddy list, and adding folders for easy access to apps. Facebook didn't provide a time frame for when these features will appear on Home.

The issues surfaced by users may be why people aren't downloading Facebook Home in droves.

"It's not really important to us," Mosseri said about the low number of downloads. "What's important to us is if people are liking the apps a lot."

Facebook will also add more prompts for new users to provide more instruction when users launch Facebook Home for the first time.

"The idea is that because it's a novel interface, you slowly, gently lead the user into using the interface," Mosseri said.

Update, 11:55 p.m. PT: Adds more information. Clarifies how the Facebook Home update will go live.

 

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