Facebook Home revealed: Turn your Android smartphone into a Facebook Phone
Facebook has unveiled "Facebook Home," its initiative on Android handsets to let people know what's going on in their world. Facebook Home wants to focus on people and not apps, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg explained.
"What would it look like if our phones were built around people and not apps?" Zuckerburg said. "We have our phones with us all the time. We want to know what's going around with people around us."
Facebook Home will be available for a large range of devices. "The great thing about Android is that it's open. You can improve on the system," Zuckerburg said. "You don't have to fork Android, you can have experiences on Android that you can't have on other platforms."
Facebook Home will bring the experience of Facebook friends to the home and lockscreen of Android through Cover Flow. There are no gestures to see the content flowing from your Facebook friends, it's simply just loaded in the background when the handset is sleeping. You can even comment and interact from Home.
If you get a message from a friend, you'll see her name and a picture of her on the Cover Flow. You can tap on it to interact, or swipe away to deal with it later. "That's putting people first in your phone," said Zuckerburg.
To access the normal array of Facebook apps using Home, you can access them by swiping up on your face. When you're done, you just throw it away. The Home interface will also show your most-used app, that can be accessed by dragging your face on top of the section. You can also bookmark apps in the app drawer. Statuses, photos and check-ins can also be accessed from this drawer.
Messaging with people through Home is done through "Chat Heads". You can move them around no matter where you are in the Android OS. If you're done with the Chat Heads, you simply throw them down. Chat heads work for both SMS messages and Facebook Messages.
Facebook Home will be released on 12 April and Facebook has revealed how you will be able to get it; through Google Play.
If you already have the existing Facebook apps on your Android device, you will get a pop up with a link to Facebook Home on Google Play. Then it will be a free download and that's it. It won't work on all devices from launch, with tablet support coming later, but there will be new versions of Facebook Home month on month, with all manner of new features being added all the time.
The devices that it will work on from launch are HTC One, HTC One X, Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Samsung Galaxy Note II. And, of course, the "Facebook Phone", the HTC First, which will have the new system hard baked into the OS from launch - also on 12 April in the US, exclusively on AT&T.
Although it wasn't said during the New Home event, it is coming to EE in the UK, presumably on its 4G network.