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Facebook Home gets more flexible with first major update

Facebook makes it easier to customize Home on Android with an upgrade that adds a tray for favorite apps and new sharing features.

Facebook Home is still on shaky ground with users who are clamoring for better features. The social network is aiming to satisfy with Thursday's first major update to its Android launcher.

The update is rolling out in stages, so you may not see it yet. When you're able to upgrade Facebook Home (which is packaged with a normal Facebook app update for Android users), you'll notice the biggest new feature is app launcher customization. Now you can move your most-used apps into a favorites tray. Before the update, Facebook Home put all of your apps in a single drawer and listed them alphabetically. Now, you can pin your favorites to the bottom of that drawer.

You'll also be able to send multiple images in a Facebook message and tweak privacy settings on your posts and updates even after they've been published.

As small as these changes are, they're still steps in the right direction. The first version of the launcher had all the right visual elements--especially Cover Feed and Chat Heads--but was too basic to attract even active Facebook users.

Facebook Home has been downloaded more than 1 million times since its mid-April launch, but Facebook's attempt at creating a social-centric phone has received mixed reviews. HTC's Facebook Home-based phone, the First, now costs less than $1 with contract.

But Facebook remains committed to Home. In a discussion at the D: All Things Digital conference last month, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, said that Facebook will continually update the launcher with new features and fixes that take user feedback into account. Sandberg said Home is still in its early days and a first step toward making phones more social.


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