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Get started with Facebook HomeThough not quite the Facebook phone people have been anticipating, Facebook Home lets you give a social media makeover to select Android phones. Sharon Vaknin shows you how to get around using the new interface.
Facebook Home isn't an operating system, but it does change your phone enough to make you relearn what you know about using Android. It still needs some work. But if you wanna give Facebook Home a shot, here are five tips to help you navigate this new interface. With Facebook Home comes a new set of gestures you'll use to navigate the system. Let's start at the main screen, the Cover Feed. When you wake your phone up, notifications will be stocked here. You can swipe away a notification like this, or if you have a bunch, tap and hold one, then swipe them all away. Chat heads are controlled with similar gestures. By now, you probably know you can move them around the screen. But to get rid of a chat head, tap and hold, then drag it down to the 'X'. You can also do this for multiple chat heads. Now, in the Cover Feed, you'll notice that photos are cropped. You never see the entire picture as you browse around. To see the full crop of a photo, just tap and hold it. To make life easier, Facebook Home combines your texts and your Facebook messages into one central place. Here is how it works. Grab your profile pic and swipe left to get to Messenger. To send a new Facebook message or an SMS, tap the plus button. As I type someone's name, I have the option here to send them a Facebook message. But if I want to send a text, I'll choose their name in this list down here. If you're texting, Facebook Home will use whatever photo you uploaded to their contact info on your phone in the chat head. Cover Feed is great, but when it's plastered all over your lock screen, it can be a little overkill. Thankfully, there's an easy way to get your regular Android lock screen back. From Home, tap the Menu button, hit Settings, and uncheck this option here. Exit that, lock your phone, and you're welcome. You got your lock screen back. In that same Settings window, there are a couple more things worth adjusting. First, know that you have the option here to show or hide the Android status bar. If you hide it, you can still access it by swiping down from the top at any time. But you won't always have a quick view of your phone's status and the time. Most important, though, is this data used in Image Quality Setting. These options-- high, medium, and low-- let you control the image quality on the Cover Feed, but it also determines the amount of data you use. The high setting, for example, will pull more data, refreshing the Cover Feed often, and delivering high-quality photos. So, if you're worried about saving on data, choose the medium or low option. The best thing about Facebook Home is that it's not your operating system. Since it's a launcher, you can enable and disable it whenever you want. Back in Settings, turn off Facebook Home and Confirm. Now, when you hit your phone's home button, you'll get this warning. Basically, your phone is asking you if you wanna use the Facebook Home interface, or the regular Android one. Tap Launcher, the Android one, hit Always, and Facebook Home will disappear. When you're ready to enable it again, just launch Facebook Home, but choose Home as the option when you get this message here. The most important thing to remember about Facebook Home is that it's brand new. So, as time goes on, expect to see updates of this interface, and hopefully some extra options for customizing it. Until then, hit me up on Twitter with any of your questions, and check out howto. CNET.com for more tips like this. For CNET, I'm Sharon Vaknin.