Mike Isaac

Recent Posts by Mike Isaac

Facebook’s New Android Beta Program Could Help Spruce Up Home

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the Facebook Home launch event.After Facebook launched its version of an Android-based mobile OS earlier this year, the initial reaction was lukewarm at best. Even now, the app has more than 10,000 one-star reviews on Google Play; more people hate the app than love it.

Fortunately for Facebook, a new program could help make the application better in a short amount of time.

Facebook today announced a beta testing program for its Android application that would effectively give early access to users who want to try out the latest, early releases of Facebook before general distribution to the public.

The idea is, you sign up to see the latest builds of the official Facebook app and automatically send feedback to the company, which can be used to improve the app before wide release. And the early adopters benefit in that they get to see the latest updates on a very popular app.

Right now, the beta program is only for the official Facebook app, not Messenger, not Camera, not Instagram … and not Facebook Home, either. But Facebook Director of Mobile Engineering Mike Shaver suggested that this program could eventually extend to Home at some point.

“Without [speaking to] future plans, we could see how that could benefit us as well,” Shaver said when asked about a beta program for Home.

I’d say that’s probably a good idea. Facebook played off its initial flop with Home as an intentionally slow release to select devices on the market. If you roll it out to only a small number of people at a time, the theory went, you can control quality better and update as needed.

Problem was, those releases, however limited, still felt like beta versions, and the users certainly let Facebook know how terrible it was. Perhaps if Facebook opens this program to Home in the near future, the company will face less initial backlash during product releases.

Or perhaps people just don’t want a “Facebook Phone” period, no matter how much they beta test it.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik