Facebook Home, the social network’s new user interface for Android, won’t be available for download until April 12th. Even when it hits the Google Play Store, Home will only run on 7 phones, one of which is the newly-released HTC First that has it preloaded. Fortunately, you can get a more immersive Facebook experience on your Android phone today with these apps.
Quick Launch Social Lock Screen (Free)
If you can't wait to unlock your phone to see your Facebook feeds, Quick Launch Social Lock Screen is For You. The lock screen contains its own Facebook widget, which shows the latest photos and headlines from the latest posts in your feed and lets you share, like or view the full post. You can also add feeds from Twitter and Instragram or place any third party widget you want on another of the lock screen's three desktops.
SO.HO Social Launcher (Free)
While it doesn't take over your app menus and lock screen,SO.HO launcher replaces your primary desktop with a social widget that shows the latest updates from your Facebook news feed. Unlike a typical Android widget, SO.HO takes over the whole screen, appearing underneath your shortcuts bar and, as you scroll down the list, both the status and shortcuts bars disappear to make room for more Facebook content. A menu at the top of the screen also lets you switch back and forth from Facebook to Twitter.
Android Pro Widgets (Free)
One of the best things about Android is that it lets you place dynamic widgets on your home screens so you can get important information without switching into a separate app. Android Pro Widgets provides a set of powerful widgets for showing your calendar, displaying your favorite bookmarks, listing your most recent SMS messages or, most importantly, showing your Facebook feed. The APW Facebook widget comes in several different sizes so you can decide how much screen real estate you want it to take up. A series of buttons at the top of the widget allow you to switch between viewing your news feed, viewing your own posts or composing a new update.
More: Smartphone Buyers' Guide
LilyPad HD ($2.99)
While not as robust as Facebook Home's Chat Heads feature, LilyPad HD allows you to conduct Facebook messaging chats from anywhere in the OS, without switching out of your current app. Like a chat client in Windows, LilyPad HD sits in a draggable window on top of your apps, If the window is blocking your view, you can either minimize it, drag it to another part of the screen or just show its title bar and the app will alert you when you get a new message. Best of all, LilyPad HD supports Google Talk, AIM and Yahoo Messenger in addition to Facebook. The free version of the app only support Google Talk, so you'll need to pay $2.99 if you want to chat on Facebook.
PhotoWall Live Wallpaper (Free)
Facebook Home's Cover Feed uses full-screen images and text from your friends as your home screen. While not quit as immersive, PhotoWall Live Wallpaper allows you to turn your friends' latest pictures into your wallpaper. The free version of PhotoWall lays these images out like Polaroid photos that appear on top of each other, but the $.99 paid version lets you choose other styles. If any of the individual images on your wallpaper catches your fancy, you can just double tap on it to get a bigger view.