Posted 04/05/2013 at 10:46 AM
Posted 4 years ago
So, the eagerly anticipated date of April 4 has come and gone, and guess what? Facebook surprised absolutely nobody!
Having put out a media invitation last week for a big unveiling regarding a ‘new home on Android,’ rumors began circulating as to what the big announcement would be. Could it be that we would finally see a Facebook phone? Well, the smart money was never going to be on new hardware and it was always much more likely that the social network would be showing off a custom Android interface – and so it proved.
At the event at Facebook’s Menlo Park, California headquarters, CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled ‘Home,’ an interface said to be focused on people as opposed to apps.
As we speculated in our own blog post last week about the event, Home will act like a skin for the Android operating system, much like HTC Sense or Samsung TouchWiz; however, as Zuckerberg says, this skin will instead put people at the heart of the smartphone experience, and not applications.
“It’s finally time to talk about that Facebook phone… or more accurately how you can turn any phone into a Facebook phone,” said Zuckerberg during the presentation.
“We think smartphones should be designed around people first, instead of apps. More and more we just want to know what’s going on with people – and we want to bring this content to the front.” And a first look at Facebook Home makes it perfectly clear what he means. With the skin on your device, you are instantly greeted by the Facebook newsfeed and messages from friends, while swiping through will allow you to view pictures and status updates that can be commented on from the home screen and liked by double tapping.
Also featured is ‘Chat Heads’ a new messaging service that allows quick access to messages from friends by having their face pop up on the screen.
“If a friend messages you, it will pop up. You just tap on your friend’s face to carry on the conversation – it will be there in any app you’re in,” said the Facebook chief describing the feature.
In fact, the whole thing seems a little intrusive and if you’re like me and have dozens of old acquaintances that you do not really care about, you probably wouldn’t want to be this up close and personal with Facebook. Having said that, hardcore Facebookers are sure to love the ease of which the interface lets you stay in contact with friends.
Facebook Home will be available to download from the Google Play Store for free from April 12th and will work only on devices running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher. At launch, the software will be available on the Samsung Galaxy S3, Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 2, as well as the HTC One and One X.
It was also announced that Home would run on the HTC First – a new handset and the first to come with the new software preloaded. Specifications of this smartphone are not yet known, but The Inquirer reports that it will be available in the UK later this month.