In case you happened to miss the furor earlier today (or yesterday, depending on your timezone), Facebook officially pushed its Facebook Home launcher into the Google Play Store for owners of a select few devices to muck around with. Early impressions seem to run the gamut, but unless you had the right hardware you were plumb out of luck if you wanted to take Home for a spin.
Well, let me rephrase that: you were plumb out of luck. MoDaCo founder Paul O’Brien worked up a dead-simple way to get Facebook Home up and running on just about any Android device. Long story short, he patched a version of the Home app to keep it from figuring out what device you’ve just loaded it onto and showing you the customary it’s-not-your-turn screen.
All you really need to do is pop into your Android device’s settings and make sure it’s set to install applications from unknown sources (it’s in the “Security” section). From there, you just have to download and install his patched versions of the Facebook Home app, as well as his patched Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps. Already have those latter two apps installed? You’ll have to uninstall both of them and load up O’Brien’s cooked versions in order for Home to work properly.
That could pose an issue for some of the more curious among you — certain devices that have the Facebook app baked into it by the manufacturer (like the HTC One, for example) won’t play nice with this version of the Home app unless you root the device and remove the Facebook app yourself. Thankfully, rooting most popular devices is way easier than it used to be, but be sure to do your homework if you think you may take the plunge.
To test out O’Brien’s handiwork, I tried installing Facebook Home on two devices that it wasn’t supposed to wind up on yet: Motorola’s Droid RAZR HD and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet. After an installation process that was completed in under two minutes for each device, Facebook Home was working mostly the way it should — it took a moment for messages to come through, but Facebook’s novel chatheads appeared on both devices, and I was easily able to see what my friends were doing on a Friday night while I stayed home to play with phones. That said, not every one of my friends’ news feed updates wound up in Home’s swipe-able stream, but that seems to be the case even if you’re running Home on supported hardware.
The only major missing feature I noticed was that neither device would let me send SMS messages from the Messenger app, an omission that seemed to plague most people that tried O’Brien’s builds. Granted, that means you don’t get the exact Home experience, but all things considered this’ll provide you a solid peek before Facebook officially brings Home to all the other Android devices of the world. As for whether or not you’ll find it to be worth keeping — well, that’s another story altogether.