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Facebook Home gets cozy on your phone

Two ways to get it

Logging in

Lock screen optional

Swipe away

Comments made easy

Say your piece

Finger on the pulse

Navigating around

Meet the launcher

Wait, where am I?

Upload photos to Facebook

Apps launcher, part two

Get your chat on

Stacking Chat Heads

Chatting interface

Move it, buddy

Snap to attention

Chat over!

Force a conversation

More settings

How to tweak Home

What you can do

Dial data up or down

Facebook Home is CEO Mark Zuckerberg & Friends' newest way to engage you on Android smartphones and tablets. A free, downloadable app, Facebook Home replaces your home screens with a rotating feed of friends' photos and status updates, and making your friends the center of your mobile world. Facebook calls this slideshow the Cover Feed.

Facebook Home also comes preinstalled on some devices, like on this HTC First.

Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
Where Facebook Home is preloaded, like on this HTC First, logging in to Facebook is part of the setup process. Otherwise, you'll download Facebook Home from the Google Play store. You'll also need Facebook Chat and Facebook's mobile app installed for everything to work in concert.
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This is the second log-in screen you'll see before Facebook Home becomes a fixture on your device.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
The software's default mode replaces your lock screen, so that Facebook Home -- and your Facebook-stylized notifications -- are the first thing you see when you wake up your phone. You can also adjust the settings to reinstate your lock screen.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
Although Facebook Home displays your notifications in a new way, you can also opt to keep your Android notifications in the pull-down tray. Swipe notifications away to dismiss them and double-tap to open.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
Upping your engagement with Facebook is what Home is all about. Do that easily by "liking" an update or leaving a comment right from Home's Cover Feed.
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In addition to adding a comment, you can also review what others said.
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The large, animated thumbs-up and its accompanying popping sound make doling out Facebook compliments pretty darn satisfying.
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To do more, tap the home button, then slide your profile icon left, up, or right to open your apps, open Facebook Messenger, or return to your previously opened app.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to call up Facebook Home's app launcher. In addition to housing your app shortcuts, the launcher also hosts buttons to check into a location, update your status, and open the photo-uploader app.
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Unfortunately, tapping your status message loops you into this update composition window, which feels graphically outdated by comparison. The same disappointment applies to using Facebook Messenger and opening the Facebook mobile app.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
Facebook's photo uploader tool finds its way onto Facebook Home as a shortcut in the app launcher. You'll be able to shoot photo and video from here, and select pictures from the camera gallery to upload to Facebook. Anything you shoot directly from this app saves into a Facebook sub folder in your Gallery.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
The launcher screen holds shortcuts only; for a full list of your installed apps, swipe over to the left, then scroll up and down.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
I'm not sure what possessed Facebook to name its new chat experience Chat Heads, but the feature has a lot to like. Chat Heads float above the surface, so you can chat while you look at any screen -- a game, your e-mail, photos of babies and French bulldog puppies, you get it. Chat Heads appear when friends reach out through Facebook Chat or SMS; a badge appears when new messages await.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
If you've got more than one Chat Head rolling around, you can expand them to toggle back and forth, or collapse them on on top of the other to save on space.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
The chat interface is pretty nice to look at, supports plenty of multimedia options, and gives you loads of emoticons to impress and entertain (keep scrolling right for more and more).
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You can hold and drag a Chat Head anywhere on the screen to get it out of your way.
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It'll adhere to the sides of your screen, not the middle, so you can actually flick it around with some force.
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Closing a Chat Head is a swipe away.
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It isn't immediately obvious you can do this, but to open a Chat Head bubble in Facebook Home, hold and press the contact name in Facebook Messenger. It won't populate much until someone responds, but at least you'll be ready when that person does.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
You'll have some say over Chat Heads in the notifications settings, like if you want to be able to access it from other apps (you do).
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
It's easy to change settings in Facebook Home. Press the Menu button, then Home Settings.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
The settings menu includes toggles to show or hide your Android status bar, put Home in front of or behind the lock screen, and even turn Home off.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
A submenu gives you control over image quality, which also ties into refresh rate and the overall data you use. Facebook will cap your usage for you at each level. Those with unlimited data plans should pick the highest option to make the most of Home.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
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