Mike Isaac

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Ten Minutes With Adam Mosseri, the Guy in Charge of Facebook Home

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Facebook on Thursday pulled back the curtain on Home, the company’s major push into creating an entirely new Facebook-ized mobile environment for Android users. A lot of ground was covered at the event; content everywhere across Cover Feed and Messaging, new HTC-made hardware in the U.S. and France, even how many Android phones will be able to run Home.

We had a chance to sit down with Adam Mosseri, Facebook Home’s director of product, and pick his brain for a bit more in-depth information on the new product. Here’s what he had to say:

On Cover Feed and Chat Heads, Facebook’s two key features in Home:

The way we think about Cover Feed internally is that people really don’t care about Facebook. They care about the content they can see on Facebook. If your nephew takes his first steps. Or what my grandmother in Pittsburg is doing. I don’t really care about the means — I just care about the content.

So we’ve always tried to put content first, though I think we kind of got away from it over the past couple of years. The site got more and more complicated as we added more products and features. So what you’ve seen us do with this — and also the News Feed redesign a month or so ago — is to try and get back to our roots in terms of values and put that content first.

For messaging, it’s people first, but it’s mostly focused on utility. It does two things really well; it lets you talk while you do something else, and it lets you quickly chat with multiple people at the same time, which no other app does quite the same way. We’re seeing a massive increase in messaging — in our platform and on other platforms as well.

On time spent working on Project Home, and its evolution over time:

I’ve been on the project for about a year, and have been the project manager for the past seven months. The core team working on Home is around 20 to 25 people, but to create Home it required a lot of help from a lot of other teams.

A couple things were happening last year. We had different projects, with different goals, doing different things. At some point in the late summer, we saw that we might be able to pull these things together and make a sort of cohesive system — a sort of suite.

Chat Heads was actually an idea from another team on another project — the Messenger group — while another team was playing around with the Lock Screen, and yet another was working on app launching in general. The core Android team had to do a lot of infrastructure work, performance work and tooling so this could even be possible.

We didn’t really lock down a direction and know exactly what we were doing from a high level until October of 2012. I’ve been here for a while, but it often happens that projects evolve and change over time.

On incorporating ads into Cover Feed:

When we do ads properly, we’ll work with [the ads team]. It’ll be a collaboration. So for example, the designers for Cover Feed will probably design the ad units. Whereas the guys who work on what’s called the auction, figuring out how to price things, that’s going to be another team. But they’ve been seeing things the whole way along.

Literally every week I post an internal note to the entire company about how Home is coming along.

On Facebook Home eventually making it onto iOS:

All of our products influence all of our other products. So our News Feed redesign influenced Home. But you can’t be a lock screen on iOS. You can’t be a home screen on iOS. You can’t draw anything while other apps are running on iOS. So the core bits are just not technically possible.

There are very different constraints in working in iOS, so for instance, there wouldn’t be an app launcher in it. We’d have to rethink a lot of things. But we’ll definitely continue to work with other teams and influence each other.

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