Facebook is acknowledging that most smartphone owners want a broader view of the social-networking universe, not just a window to planet Facebook.
Starting Thursday, the company is incorporating Flickr, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram content into the Facebook Home lock screen experience, marking the biggest modification since a dramatic shift in strategy that came after its once-bundled Android software package failed to move consumers.
The Home improvement, only available in the Facebook for Android beta application to start, gives application users the option to add streams of content from the third-party, image-rich social services to their smartphone lock screens. The release turns Cover Feed, a picture-centric, panning version of News Feed that replaces a smartphone's lock screen, into a more socially aware zone where people can consume photos and posts from places other than Facebook.
Adding non-Facebook content to Home is part of the social network's switched-up strategy to slice and dice Home into pieces -- the messaging app Chat Heads, Cover Feed, and the application launcher -- that consumers may actually want to add to their smartphone. After a flop of a launch, Facebook hopes Cover Feed, as a standalone, ambiently aware lock screen for visually enjoying a variety of friends' and celebrities' updates, will convince people to give Home a second chance.
Facebook-owned Instagram is an obvious addition to the lock screen. Tumblr, Pinterest, and Flickr, meanwhile, highlight the social network's remodeled attitude and should appeal to people other than just Facebook enthusiasts. People can engage with the added content just as they would with Facebook content in Cover Feed, meaning they can double tab on the screen to favorite a Flickr photo or "heart" an Instagram, Tumblr, or Pinterest photo. There's also a "view on" link included with the third-party photos and posts that, when clicked, will direct people to the site in question.
Facebook for Android beta users can turn on the additional services from the Home settings menu. Though currently in limited release, Facebook eventually plans to make the more inclusive lock screen available through its standard Android application and is already testing it in the wild, a Facebook spokesperson told CNET. The company also plans to add additional services to the lock screen but has nothing further to announce beyond the four added Thursday, the spokesperson said.