Facebook Home kicks off makeover with new favorite apps tray

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Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is taking steps to overhaul its much-maligned Home launcher for Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, adding a new tray for favorite non-Facebook apps.

Facebook Home, introduced in early April, is an alternative homescreen that pushes the social media giant's mobile services to the forefront of the Android user interface. The new favorites tray, rolling out via Facebook's flagship Android app, enables consumers to customize their Home experience by pinning the other apps and games they use most, a move to assuage criticisms that Home is too rigid and makes it too difficult to access other mobile features and functions.

Among the 19,000 consumers who've submitted Home reviews to the Google Play storefront, more than half have awarded Home just one star, the digital storefront's lowest rating. Late last month, Facebook promised significant improvements directly inspired by consumer comments. "We've listened to feedback from users on their experience using Home," Facebook said. "While many people love it, we've heard a lot of great feedback about how to make Home substantially better. As a result we're focusing the next few months on adding customization features that address the feedback we received."

Facebook has limited Home support to a handful of devices including Samsung's Galaxy S4, Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II, HTC's One, One X and One X+, and Sony's Xperia ZL. Facebook Home is also preloaded on the HTC First, available from AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T). AT&T recently offered the HTC First for the clearance price of 99 cents, along with a two-year contract--an AT&T spokesperson told CNet the company runs this type of handset promotion all the time, although some observers said the sale price lends further credence to a recent note from Wall Street firm Sterne Agee stating "A local AT&T store we checked with told us it had not sold a single HTC First phone."

Telecommunications providers EE and Orange planned to release the HTC First to U.K. subscribers this summer, but Facebook is halting those plans for the time being. "While we focus on making Home better, we are going to limit supporting new devices and think it makes a lot of sense for EE and Orange to hold off deploying the HTC First in Europe," the social network said.

Facebook's total mobile monthly active users grew from 488 million to 751 million in the first quarter of 2013, a year-over-year increase off 54 percent. Its mobile-only MAUs also increased to 189 million, up from 157 million in the previous quarter.

For more:
- read this Verge article
- read this CNet article

Related articles:
Facebook COO Sandberg acknowledges Facebook Home issues, is optimistic about its future
Facebook vows Home improvements, halts U.K. launch of HTC First
Facebook Home quietly expands to Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One
Facebook Home needs an extreme makeover
Facebook Home downloads top 500K in first week, reviewers give it 2.2 stars
Microsoft exec slams Facebook Home, calls Android 'complicated enough'

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