UPDATE: The leaked Facebook Home APK described below no longer works, as FB has cut off service since it isn’t fully complete. Luckily, you only have to wait another few days to get your hands on the official release.
Android users will get the chance to try out the official public release of Facebook Home later this week, but if anyone is really impatient a beta version has leaked and is available to try now (via Verge). MoDaCo has published the beta (which is actually made up of three separate APKs covering the Facebook app itself, a new Messenger app and the Home/launcher app.
Another benefit of the pre-release version of Home, besides getting to try it out early, is that it works on a wide variety of devices beyond the five specified by Facebook as being compatible in the event it held last week to officially announce Facebook Home. The only requirement seems to be that the device has a maximum resolution of 1280×768, and that a user is able to completely uninstall their existing Facebook app. The Nexus 4 is therefore a viable candidate.
Functionality is somewhat limited, however. Chat heads doesn’t work as of yet, for instance. But Cover feed appears to function as intended, and all the settings appear to be there. The settings reveal that in choosing where your Home content comes from, you can both enable and disable updates from Pages and status updates from users in your network. You can also enable or disable the notification/status bar at the top of the screen for a more edge-to-edge Facebook experience.
The leak shows that there doesn’t really appear to be any huge technical barrier to putting Facebook Home on a wide variety of handsets, which is good news for users who don’t own one of the five devices initially set to receive it. If you’re interested, you can head over to MoDaCo to download the APKs and try this our yourself, but as with any side-loaded software, remember you do so at your own risk. Friday might just be a little too far off for some curious folks, however.
To install the Facebook Home beta, first make sure you’ve uninstalled both Facebook and Facebook Messenger. Then navigate to your device’s security settings and then tick the box that allows you to install apps from unknown sources. Then download the APK files above to your computer. Plug in your Android device and make sure that it has USB mode enable, or download Android File Transfer if you’re on a Mac. Drag and drop the three APK files to your device, preferably in the “Downloads” folder.
On your Android device, if you don’t already have one, download and install a free file manager application from Google Play. The free and aptly named “File Manager” does the job. Within that app, navigate to where you copied the Facebook Home APK files from your computer, and tap on each to install them.
Once they’re installed, sign in to Facebook with your credentials, and then activate Facebook Home. It’ll take a few seconds to load, but should quickly go from a gray screen to photos from your FB feed and a home circle with your face at the bottom. You can choose to have pressing the home button on your device activate FB Home by default, or your default launcher, and you can change these settings at any time in Android Settings.