“Ooh, I’d like that new Facebook Home. Can you put it on my phone?”
So began a quest of almost Greek Epic proportions as I first tried to explain to my wife that no, Facebook Home won’t run on her LG Optimus P920 3D (I was rebuffed with “that’s the third Ron you’ve installed since you bought me it!” – no, I didn’t mention that we call them ‘ROMs’). Later, after some research, I then attempted to prise the phone out of her social network infested fingers so that I could test if the potential solution I had found would actually work.
With some surprise, I found that Facebook Home does indeed work on the LG Optimus P920 3D – and it works on many other older, “unsupported” devices too, just as long as you install a specially adjusted version.
What Is FB Home?
Facebook Home is the social networking giant’s new app for Android, a sort of mini launcher that can be used to replace your home screen and replace it with a Facebook-ized experience that puts your social connections to the forefront.
The effect is a visually pleasing experience with a regularly changing background collected from images uploaded by your friends, status updates and a single button to drag open the messenger, apps list and settings.
It’s basically a way for Facebook to dominate your Android phone or tablet. You can find out just how much it dominates in Tina’s review of Facebook Home.
Facebook Home Compatibility
The problem many users will face with Facebook Home is threefold. First, it is designed only for Android 4.0 and later, so the many millions of Android device owners still running Froyo and Gingerbread will be excluded (unless they can find an Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean ROM).
There is a second problem in that Facebook has only made the app available to a narrow selection of devices, listed on Google Play as “including the Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy Note II, HTC One X and HTC One X+”. Presumably there some others, but they aren’t listed.
A third issue is that users in certain countries are unable to install Facebook Home, even if there device is supported.
It is worth noting that Facebook Home is a sort of umbrella app that uses the standard Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps. So for a user with a compatible device and Android version, all three apps would need to be installed.
But what if you don’t own a suitable device, or live in an unsupported country?
International Blocks Prevent Facebook Home Installation
If you are one of the unlucky ones with a brand new phone but a block on installing Facebook Home based on your location, the solution is simple.
First, open Settings > Security and enable Unknown Sources. This will enable you to install an APK file downloaded from a source other than Google Play.
With the official Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps installed, open the Modaco.com forum and download the link to com.facebook.home.apk. Using a file browser (such as ASTRO), find the installer file and tap it to run.
Once installed, open Facebook, open the Menu to view the app Settings and enable Facebook Home.
Installing Facebook Home without the Device Check
Anyone who has ever tried installing an incompatible device via Google Play will have been instantly rebuffed with the dreaded “This app is incompatible with your Vodafone LGE LG-P920,” or whatever device you’re using.
Fortunately in the case of Facebook Home, there is a workaround in the shape of a modified APK file that removes the device check, thereby ensuring that the new app installs. However, I would be wary of trying this on any device older than a couple of years, and you should certainly be running Android 4.0 or later.
To begin, you will need to uninstall Facebook and Facebook Messenger from your phone, so open Settings > Apps, browse to the apps in question and tap Uninstall.
You should then open Settings > Security and enable Unknown Sources.
Finally, download and install these APK files com.facebook.katana.modaco.apk,com.facebook.orca.modaco.apk and com.facebook.home.modaco.apk, in that order, using a file browser such as ASTRO (once again, these files originate at Modaco.com)
(These files have had the device-checking code removed, and are therefore modified. They have also been used by several posters with no sign of any malware.)
A few moments later, Facebook Home will be installed!
Conclusion: Would You, Should You?
With the new app installed, you can start enjoying Facebook in a whole new way, although if you get sick of it open Menu > Settings and tap Turn off Facebook Home. Note that while you’re using the app whenever you press your phone’s Home button you will be asked to choose between the default launcher and Facebook Home. You can choose to set a permanent choice here or to make your choice each time the dialog appears.
Ultimately, Facebook Home is just an app unifying the basic Facebook mobile experience with the messenger app. Whether you choose to install it this way or not is entirely up to you, but we would be very interested in finding out if you managed to install it, and what sort of experience you had using it on an “unsupported” device.