As expected, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the HTC First Facebook phone today, but he also introduced a complete home replacement for many popular Android phones (and eventually tablets). It’s called Facebook Home, and according to Zuckerberg, “It sets the tone for your whole experience.”
Although the new launcher will work with all the apps that are installed on your phone, it changes the focal point to people as opposed to apps. The Coverfeed allows you to scroll through updates with large photos. You will be able to quickly see all the comments and respond inline. You will also find a notification pane that includes SMS messages and other important posts.
Chat Heads allows you to utilize Facebook Messenger or SMS while using any other app. You can simply carry on a conversation without closing the app. Floating pictures of your friends appears on the screen, and you can move them wherever you want. If you want to converse with any of your friends, just tap their picture to start chatting via SMS or Facebook Messenger.
You will also find a major change when it comes to notifications. They are now sorted by friend instead of apps. It’s all about telling you what your friend is doing rather than if an app has something to tell you. In a sense, your phone becomes one huge newsfeed. Check out more in this video…
The rumors leading up to today were that Facebook would fork Android, but Zuckerberg praised the openness of Android and said, “You don’t need to fork Android or modify the OS to do this.”
Facebook is offering Facebook Home to all manufacturers as far as making their phones compatible to it or by releasing phones that have it pre-installed. Some partners already signed up include HTC, Samsung, Sony, Huawei, and chipmaker Qualcomm.
Since it was announced that some phones already on the market would be compatible, it’s unclear whether an over-the-air update is necessary to enable this compatibility. These phones include the Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II, the upcoming Galaxy S 4, the HTC One, and the One X+. If you have one of these phones, you can simply download the app from the Play Store when it becomes available on April 12, which is the same day the HTC First will become available. Tablet support is on the way, but no timeframe was given.