Facebook Home brings an interesting question to the table. Who else could benefit from an experience like this? What other companies or services could really make the most out of an interface like this? Our own Taylor Martin opined on a series of apps that could use the ChatHeads treatment. These are just a few ideas of companies that could realistically make an appealing Facebook Home-like launcher. For the purposes of this article, when I refer to a Home Launcher, that’s what I’m talking about. So, without further ado, let’s take a look.
Well duh. Facebook is social media so it’s not much of a stretch. One company that could create a monster of an app is Google. It’s running on Android, and last I checked Google is Android’s daddy, so Google could definitely do something like this. It might just be the only thing that could make Google+ relevant to people outside of tech folks and people whose paycheck says “Google” in the corner. Having a Google+ interface at the top of every launcher page, plus a quick camera button for sharing photos could introduce a bevy of new users to the service. Gmail implications could almost be staggering.
Twitter is another service that could really benefit from this type of experience. Twitter is nothing if not instant communications at a glance. It really would require integration to the plethora of photo sharing services that twitter users employ – yfrog, twitpic, to name a couple. Otherwise you end up with not a whole lot of visual stimulation, which may very well fit into twitter’s design language. Have you seen their apps for crying out loud?
Other social media services would have varying levels of success with integration. The first service that jumped to mind was Instagram, which Facebook has kept as a separate service, so it’s not crazy to think they might be the next domino.
Amazon is arguably a company that could make something like a Home Launcher experience successful. On your lock screen is a listing of products that are on special, Amazon local deals, etc. Your launcher could include quick access to a barcode scanner for price comparison, or adding items to a wish list.
Groupon, LivingSocial, and other businesses following a similar model (steep discounts, coupons, etc.) could make a Home Launcher that shows deals on the lock screen. Double tap one to bring up the details. A quick-access e-wallet system could keep track of your purchases, and display a quick map of where those purchases are valid, so if you find yourself in an area, you can check to see where you can have lunch that day.
One area that I could very easily see coming out with an experience like this is sports teams. Imagine themed launchers with on going scores, schedules, team photos in the lock screen, automatic updates. Excuse me, I need to go clean up this drool before it shorts out my keyboard. This could very well be the immersive experience that sports seem to be lacking in the mobile tech world.
Having said all this, let’s hope that Facebook has not opened Pandora’s Box. It would be easy to imagine a flood of these Home Launchers spewing forth form every major company that has a few drawers full of extra money to throw at a development team. Launchers for sports, launchers for gardening, launchers for…whatever. They will eventually need to create their own category – not just a launcher, not quite a skin. Something in between. Basically the app equivalent of a Phablet.
The Birth of ‘Skapps’
The problem is, by their very nature, these types of skapps (get it? skin/app combo? You heard it here first) would require a commitment (or at least an approximation of one) by a mobile user. Facebook Home would not play nice with any other skapp. Similarly, if you wanted to install Amazon’s skapp, it would override Facebook’s and vice versa. I’m not sure many companies would have that kind of end-user commitment, except for the categories I listed above.
Given that, what other kinds of skapps would you like to see? If there were a variety of skapps in the market, would you install any of them? Hit us up in the comments and let us know. And also, if you have a better name than “skapps,” we’d be very appreciative.