Mark Zuckerberg took the stage at Facebook
’s Menlo Park headquarters to announce Home
, which as expected is not a new piece of hardware nor a completely new operating system, but a deep Facebook integration with Android that goes beyond what an app can do. Zuck put it in a nutshell by saying that instead of phones being designed around apps, Facebook wanted to design around people. More to the point, Home is designed to make communicating and Facebooking easier to do.
The first main feature is the Cover feed, which functions as both a lock screen and a home screen. Your lock screen has sliding pictures that displays what amounts to your Newsfeed, only one story at a time. You can comment and like without actually unlocking your phone.
Lock screen and Cover feed
When notifications pop up, you can quickly open them, respond, or dismiss them with a swipe. One exciting and powerful tool is called Chat heads, which is kind of a silly name for the powerful ability to exchange SMS and Facebook messages on top of other apps. For example, if a buddy wants to see a movie with you, you can open up Fandango while keeping your message string open.
How deep does Facebook Home go? It’s also an app launcher; you can let your Android
OS open apps, or you can opt to let Home completely take over.
Chat heads and app screen
You can hit up the Google Play Store on April 12th to download and install Facebook Home for yourself--provided you have one of the supported devices, which include the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S III, or the HTC One X and X+; support for the HTC One and Galaxy S4 is coming.
If you don’t have one of those devices and don’t want to wait, HTC
is making the first phone to ship with Home on board. The HTC First will be available exclusively through AT&T on April 12th for $99.99 and will offer 4G LTE. You can get yours in one of four colors--black, white, aqua, or orange.
Other phone makers can get on the Home train with the Facebook Home Program; we imagine that more than a few will be doing so soon. Finally, note well that Facebook Home is available only on Android devices; iOS users are left out in the cold, and by dint of Android's openness versus the closed iOS, that's how it will remain unless Apple comes knocking at Facebook's door, hat in hand.