Facebook Home's Achilles heel: No Android notifications when using new Home app
Facebook has confirmed to Pocket-lint that users of the new Facebook Home app won't be able to get Android system notifications while they're doing it.
"HTC did something that is incredibly subtle but also very important," explained Cory Ondrejka, director of mobile engineering at Facebook, in a phone call with Pocket-lint.
"One of the key features that HTC did on the HTC First - in addition to being fully integrated out of the box and being a great user experience when you open the device - is that they have access to system notifications. If you get a Gmail message in Android you get it in the top bar and then you can pull it down."
While that works perfectly on the HTC First, it doesn't for the app download available via Google Play for other Android devices.
"There is no affordance in Android to expose those notifications to apps. There is no intent for notifications. Every OEM who has built custom skins for Android has already plugged into the notifications system," Ondrejka said.
"HTC is no different. What we asked HTC for was an API to get access to those notifications so we can put them into the Home experience. It is one of the big differences between the experience between the First versus the download. That is a change that HTC made to Android."
What that means is that if you were to download the Home app on a Samsung Galaxy S3 you wouldn't get system notifications while using the new Facebook Home app.
"You would still get them inside Android, but you wouldn't get them in the Home notifications," confirmed Ondrejka.
It’s something that Facebook also confirm on its Facebook.com/home website:
"Notifications about calls, events, Facebook updates and other apps appear on your home screen and stick around until you need them."
If that sounds great, it's because it is, but at the end of that sentence is a footnote: "All notifications are a available on the HTC First. The free Home download includes Facebook notifications."
HTC has also confirmed the news to Pocket-lint: "We believe the HTC First will be the main 'point of entry' for people to first experience Facebook Home, so we've designed and spec'ed it for the broad segment of the market that will be interested in the new experience," a spokesman said.
"The benefit is the seamless out-of-box experience those consumers will enjoy as opposed to downloading and installing the apk on another device."
Yes, you heard that right. Using the Facebook Home "super-app" as a replacement for the skin or interface that your phone offers would mean you would no longer get notifications in the same way as you currently do.
We'll be checking out the situation as soon as we get our hands on Facebook Home to find out exactly what the score is.