Should you download Facebook Home?

The Facebook Home suite of apps and the HTC First – the first smartphone to come prepackaged with Home – both launch today. Whether or not you should pick them up may depend on how chained you are to Facebook. 

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Call it Home-coming day. 

Facebook Home, a new suite of Android apps, debuted today on the Google Play store – and assuming you've got one of the phones capable of running the software (The Verge has a good list) and Android 4.0 or higher, you can download the whole package right now.

Meanwhile, along with the Facebook Home software, today is also the launch day for the mid-range HTC First handset, the first phone to come prepackaged with Facebook Home. 

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So should you download the Facebook Home software? It depends on what kind of user you are. Casual Facebook users – the kind of folks who sign on every couple of days, for instance – are likely not going to be that interested in turning their entire interface into a gigantic Facebook feed. But if you're a regular Facebook user (and that's probably a lot of you), you may like having all those Facebook functionalities right at your finger tips. 

Over at The Wall Street Journal, Walt Mossberg calls home "the boldest attempt by any non-hardware company to alter a phone’s native user interface." 

Mr. Mossberg found some downsides to the software – for instance, it blocks or otherwise obscures some key Android apps, including the one-step camera icon – but in general, his write-up was a favorable one, as were most reviews

"I found Facebook Home to be easy to use, elegantly designed and addictive," he writes. "Although I’m a regular Facebook user, I found that, with Home, I paid more attention than ever to my news feed, Liked items more often and used Facebook’s Messenger service more often. So, if you are a big Facebook fan, Facebook Home can be a big win."

As for the HTC First phone, reactions have been a little more mixed. It's worth noting that the First is not a high-powered phone – with its $99 list price (with a contract, of course), dual-core processor, and 5-megapixel camera, the First lags well behind its top-of-the-line competitors. The Verge calls the camera on the device "muddy" and Ars Technica points out that, in terms of speed, the First is best compared to older handsets such as the LG Optimus G. 

The HTC First, notes Alex Colon of PC Mag, is "a decent choice for the money, and a decent choice if you can't be bothered to load the Facebook Home suite onto a different Android phone. But you can get the Samsung Galaxy S III for the same price as the First, and that gets you a bigger screen, a microSD card slot, a better camera, and Samsung's TouchWiz UI layer." 

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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