While it’s not exactly a phone, Facebook users are going to have a new way to experience the social network on their mobile devices.
“Our phones today are designed around apps, not people. We want to flip that around,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at a press conference on Thursday.
Facebook Home is an app launcher available for Android that will convert your phone into a Facebook device. Instead of having to click on the Facebook app, Facebook will be integrated into everything you do. All other apps will still work, but will be integrated into the new service.
Facebook Home users will be greeted by their Coverfeed on their device’s home screen. They’ll be presented with updates about their closest Facebook friends, determined through preset Circles and the pages they visit the most. The updates will constantly move as if they were being sideswiped.
No more guessing what the rest of the message says: The whole post will be displayed, splashed across your device’s screen in full-sized images and text. Uers can touch which post they want to learn more about to stop it, and comment directly on new posts without having to leave their home screen.
New happenings and notifications to your personal account will be featured as status messages on the home screen. A button featuring a small image of the user’s profile picture will allow them to access their other apps.
You’ll also be able to use Facebook chat even if you are using another app through a feature called Chat Heads. When you or someone else initiates a Facebook chat with you, a small version of their profile picture will appear somewhere on your screen. Click on their face if you want to continue the conversation without having to re-enter the Facebook app. The profile images are moveable, meaning you can place them anywhere on your screen for ultimate optimization. The feature will also work with your mobile device’s SMS functions, but not third-party apps.
Zuckerberg added that the reason why Facebook didn’t create a separate device is because a phone would only sell 10 or 20 million units. The social network currently has over 1 billion users, and they wanted to create a platform that would be able to benefit most of them.
Facebook Home will be available for download for free on April 12. It will also come pre-loaded on new phones and eventually on tablets on a later, unannounced date.
Currently, it is optimized for HTC One and One X. The first phone to feature Facebook Home will be appropriately named HTC First, which will be carried by AT&T on April 12 for $99.99 with a two-year contract. Eventually, the Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy S 4 and Note II will get optimized versions.