Facebook unveils its new 'Home' on Android

Facebook unveils its new 'Home' on Android

Summary: In what might have been a terribly kept secret, Facebook has unveiled its Android project.

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MENLO PARK, CALIF. -- There have been countless rumors about a potential "Facebook phone" over the years, and they finally came to fruition on Thursday.

Well, sort of.

See also: CNET live blog: Facebook's new home on Android | Forget the 'Facebook phone', Facebook's mobile ambitions are way bigger than that | Facebook's Android play could be boon for HTC | Facebook phone? Been there, done that, and nobody cared

"Today we're finally going to talk about that Facebook phone," quipped CEO Mark Zuckerberg immediately after walking out during a packed invite-only event on Thursday morning.

Zuckerberg went on to explain the inspiration behind the social network's new mobile strategy, suggesting that instead of designing phones around apps first, why not "design around people first" and then interact with the apps.

"We're not building a phone and we're not building an operating system," Zuckerberg remarked. "But we're building something a whole lot deeper than just an ordinary app."

Stressing that there "is a new use case that is becoming more and more important," Zuckerberg described that Facebook wants to bring a new "home" to smartphones.

Gallery: Facebook builds a new 'Home' on Android

"The home screen is really the soul of your phone," Zuckerberg posited.

Enter Facebook Home, a home screen interface (or "a family of apps") that can be installed by users themselves on top of Android.

One of the core features to Facebook's Home platform is that notifications are based on people rather than apps, which immediately started drawing questions and comparisons on Twitter to Google Now and Windows Phone.

During the live demo, Adam Mosseri, Facebook's director of product, said that the purpose of Home is to shift attention away from tasks and apps to their friends instead.

But he also admitted that apps are still important. Thus, Home extends Facebook's app portfolio beyond the basic native social network and messaging apps to consist of a graphic-heavy cover feed of updates and an app launcher for bookmarking favorite apps.

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One feature that particularly integrates Facebook's messaging service is Chat Heads.

Similar to Apple's iMessage for iOS devices, Chat Heads basically merges Facebook Messenger and SMS conversations for individual contacts.

In one fell swoop, Facebook has attempted to establish itself as the core messaging and communication platform on Android.

Read More: Facebook Home: Android takeover and Google punch to the head

That could end up presenting serious competition not only for service providers when it comes to texting, but also Android's maker, running up against the combination of Gmail, Google Chat and Google Plus.

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Slated to launch in the next week, Facebook Home for Android can be downloaded from Google Play. It will be rolling out for at least five Android smartphones first, but support on tablets won't follow for at least "several months."

Nevertheless, Facebook execs promised that new features for Home will roll out "every month."

HTC and AT&T team up on Facebook Home

Zuckerberg singled out HTC and AT&T as partners on Home, noting they have worked together to build first set of phones with Facebook Home pre-loaded.

HTC CEO Peter Chou introduced the HTC First, which he described as the "ultimate social phone" as well as a "great opportunity to bring social and mobile together."

"It will give you the best Facebook experience," Chou boasted, asserting that the HTC First is the only phone pre-loaded and optimized for Home.

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AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega touted that he thinks that the HTC First offers the most engagement on a smartphone that he has ever seen.

Outfitted in four colors (black, white, red and baby blue), the HTC First runs on AT&T's 4G LTE network. It will retail for $99.99 with a two-year service agreement when it goes on sale on April 12. Pre-orders open up today.

"At one level, this is just the next mobile version of Facebook," Zuckerberg concluding, adding that at a deeper level, he suggested it's possible this will change the relationship we have with computing devices in our lives overall.

"We're about to see the most empowered generation of people in history," Zuckerberg said. "It's a deeply technical problem, but it's also a deeply social problem."

Image Credits: James Martin, CNET

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Topics: Mobility, Android, Apps, Smartphones, Social Enterprise

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23 comments
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  • It's called a windows phone Marky

    Me tiles and tiles for people, I never open apps
    everss02
  • And what about spoiling up time ?

    With one of the updates of facebook on my Android Nexus phone, I can't shut the freakin app down anymore. Its always running eating up to 60MB and ruining my battery life.
    I don't need to know instantly when a friend posts something.
    If I can't control it, I'm going to uninstall it.
    m_a_simons@...
  • Hey Facebook....

    How about making one of your apps for ANY platform actually perform as well or better than the web page first before trying to take over the whole Phone interface? Your apps in general are missing features, run slowly, run poorly, crash consistently...
    Please just fix the apps you have, then concern yourself with branching out.

    Also... please include all the features of the web page...
    condelirios
  • Oops

    Oops. There goes a big chunk of Google biz on Android. Cf. Amazon.
    Steve Nagel
  • Forget this!

    Please Facebook, go away!
    nutsnbolts76@...
  • Ha. Well. What can one say.

    I guess in no time flat we will have the WP8 and Windows 8 haters telling us how much more of the OS market Android is capturing and how this here kind of thing makes Windows on your desktop or laptop even less relevent than before.

    Its this kind of gunk that give me reasons for telling people that when you get into these massive arguments about OS market share, please dont be rediculous and compare full desktop OS's like Linux Windows and OSX to this mobile OS stuff.

    Its just not the same at all.
    Cayble
  • At least now we have documented proof....

    ... that Facebook and everything related to it is a useless, and thus worthless, piece of crap.

    Chat heads. That's the killer feature that deserves a full color spread.

    Does Facebook report it's user numbers based on activity, or do they quote the number of entries in the member database? I would bet its the latter, and that if the former were reported we would all know that Facebook is NOT a thing any more.
    qwetry
  • No thanks

    I use facebook and have an android phone, but I don't want this!
    Rodo1
  • a lot of hype

    but its just an app. I already have a poorly design facebook app. I don't want facebook to take over my phone.
    betazero
  • A solution looking for a problem

    Social networking is on the decline, in the real world. Do we need a phone that gives us more opportunities to waste time on Facebook? I don't see a purpose behind this, but, then, I'm not a boy genius, either.
    kevindsingleton
  • Facebook unveils its new 'Home' on Android

    You can run android and this app on top of it taking up all your phone resources or you can get Microsoft Windows Phone 8 with Facebook integrated. I know which one is the better choice for me.
    Loverock-Davidson
  • Time Will Tell

    Whether this is a boon or a boondoggle. I think the Facebook Home is a logical extension of Facebook's mission. If you like Facebook, you'll probably like this "home." If not, you won't. It's clearly aimed at the youth market where kids live on their Facebook walls. But a lot will depend on how well this home is implemented. Zuckerberg downplays the role of the smart phone app, yet how well the Facebook Home app(s) work will be crucial to how well the Facebook phone does in the marketplace. Kludgy apps will kill the phone, period. Good apps will sell it.
    thewhitedog
  • Windows Phone looks so smart now...

    The Facebook home will be a flop.
    Owllll1net
  • So many skins and UI and malware on Andorid....

    With zero privacy and malware, investing in Android platform is not a wise choice.
    Owllll1net
    • interesting for me this is the selling point...

      not viruses of course but everyone knows even on windows the virus hype is magnified out of proportion to reality with people treating simple website tracking data as some kind of privacy invasion. The strength of android is its flexibility and of course with more open platforms comes risk - but a small risk worth taking. I have rooted my galaxy and have taken regular full back ups - if it were to get a virus or malware I would just revert to earlier version or even install a custom rom. I don't trust systems where I cant get at the core myself.
      cymru999
    • Malware and facebook.

      I rarely use facebook except to try and keep up with my children that are all over the country, now world. And as far as malware, I have had NONE at all but then I am considered a computer genius.
      However, the more I think I know the more I learn I don't.
      RobertMoore12@...
    • Think of using up your data allowance

      I would think this would be a bad idea for people on limited data plans from their phone company. If you have unlimited, it won't be a problem. But if you have a restricted plan you'll blow through your data limit very quickly.
      RobertMoore12@...
  • you already have the best experience on Windows Phone

    on the windows phone 8 with people hub. Facebook home is still an app and another way of a Marketing company to keep people glued to advertisements. Don't be surprised because that's ultimately why the company is into business. With this app you'll even loose out the screen space to FB for their marketing instead of putting pic of your loved ones
    dugbug11
    • Android Bonus for Hardware Manufacturers

      Agreed AM, this is simply another skin to make Android look friendly but it's already there in WP8. Watch this space when people start to boast about the RAM in their Android phone except the fact is Android phones will need to run more memory just to carry all of the overlays/skins to make them look like something other than what they are - clunky.
      KRP1950
  • Not on my phone

    I will NEVER install this crap on my phone.
    eye4bear