Facebook unveils Chat Heads, a simple, annoying way to manage conversations

You can sum up Facebook’s vision for the future of mobile communication in two words — incessant and annoying.

As a part of its Facebook Home unveiling today, the company announced Chat Heads, a persistent social layer that sits on top of Android and lets you send both texts and Facebook messages.

“With Chat Heads, you can seamlessly carry out multiple conversations with the people you care about,” Facebook product designer Joey Flynn said during the event.

Essentially, Chat Heads solves the problem of having to leave an app to continue a conversation. This means that no matter what app you’re in — say Chrome or Instagram — Chat Heads will be there. Always.

Which sounds like it would get really annoying really, really fast.

Imagine reading an article on Instapaper and having a text from a friend pop up and stick around until you interact with it. Even worse, imagine that same thing happening while you’re watching a video. Chat Heads may offer solutions to perceived problems, but it’s also creating some problems of its own. (Fortunately, Home offers a variety of gestures to manage and dismiss Chat Heads, which is good.)

However annoying Chat Heads may be, we’ll get the full picture when Home is officially released next week. Perhaps Facebook is smart enough to give the feature an “off” button.

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