Facebook’s big push to put itself at the center of Android phones with Facebook Home hasn’t gone well, so now the company is trying something different.
If you have Facebook’s Android app, you can now set Facebook Home’s “Cover Feed” as your lock screen without having to install the entire Home launcher. When you turn on your phone, Cover Feed shows you status updates and photos from friends, and you can scroll through them without unlocking the device.
It’s a reasonable compromise for Facebook, and not a terrible option for users. Unless you’re a power user who takes advantage of lock screen widgets in the latest versions of Android, chances are your lock screen wastes a lot of space. Cover Feed spruces things up, and it still provides shortcuts to your camera and the Facebook Messenger app.
By going this route, you get to sidestep the worst thing about Facebook Home–namely, the complete replacement of your Android home screen with Facebook’s less functional one. Your phone’s home screen will look the same, and you can take advantage of Android’s widgets and shortcuts.
For what it’s worth, Facebook hasn’t given up on Home. New features, such as app folders, are still being added, and the latest update expanded Facebook Home to more devices. That’s despite a middling 2.5-star rating in Google Play and the utter flop of HTC’s First, the only phone to feature Facebook Home by default.
Here’s what a Facebook spokesperson told CNet about the new lock screen feature: “Cover Feed has been a popular element of the Home experience, and making it available from the Facebook Android app makes it accessible for more people.”
The funny thing is that Cover Feed will only work on phones that support Facebook Home in the first place. So Facebook isn’t making Cover Feed accessible to “more people,” it’s just making it accessible to existing people who don’t care for Facebook Home.s
And that’s okay. Unless you also don’t care for Facebook either, Cover Feed is worth a try, especially because it’s less of a commitment than Home. You can enable it by going to app settings (near the bottom of the left sidebar menu) and checking the box for “Use as Lock Screen.”